The Community Empowerment Act and localism under devolution in Scotland

Ian Charles Elliott (Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK)
Violetta Fejszes (Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK)
Mariola Tàrrega (University of Stirling, Stirling, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Publication date: 8 April 2019



In Scotland, the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act represents a significant development towards greater localism in the way public services are designed and delivered in Scotland. This also represents a different approach to that adopted in the rest of the UK. The purpose of this paper is to explore the stakeholder perceptions of localism within a council ward.


This paper is based on an in-depth exploratory case study of a single council ward in East Scotland. The fieldwork involved 61 in-depth interviews with multiple stakeholders including local councillors, public service managers and residents.


The findings highlight that, whilst the discourse of community empowerment represents policy divergence, there remain some significant structural and social barriers to meaningful community empowerment in practice. Finally, it is argued that there are three key factors to consider when developing community empowerment: a shared strategy, shared resources and shared accountability.


The research draws on extensive data from an in-depth case study to explore the realities of community empowerment within a single local authority ward. In doing so, it provides a rich contextual narrative of how the rhetoric of community empowerment is perceived within a council ward setting.



Ian Charles Elliott, Violetta Fejszes and Mariola Tàrrega (2019) "The Community Empowerment Act and localism under devolution in Scotland", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 302-319

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