Scottish communities fund given £5.6m boost

Mr Neil announced the funding ahead of a Holyrood debate on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill. Picture: John Devlin

Mr Neil announced the funding ahead of a Holyrood debate on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill. Picture: John Devlin

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A FUND which helps community groups to tackle local issues “on their own terms” is being boosted with an extra £5.6 million of Scottish Government cash, the Social Justice Secretary has announced.

Alex Neil revealed the People and Communities Fund is being increased from £9.4 million to £15 million.

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The additional cash comes from a £10 million investment in empowering local communities which was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year.

He announced the funding ahead of a Holyrood debate on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, which proposes extending the community right to buy and allowing local groups to buy disused land and derelict properties, even if the owner does not want to sell.

If the legislation is passed, councils would have to keep waiting lists for allotments and would also have to try to provide more of these if demand is high.

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Mr Neil said: “We know every community in Scotland has different needs and that we all have our own ideas about how we can make our areas better.

“This Government recognises that by giving communities the power and confidence to shape their own futures, we can tackle poverty and address inequalities more effectively.

“Through the People and Communities Fund, we will provide money direct to community groups to help them tackle local issues on their own terms.

“This new money will support the aims of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill, which will give people a stronger voice in the decisions that matter to them and will help communities who wish to take over public land and buildings.”

The People and Communities Fund was originally launched in 2012 and since then 156 groups across Scotland have received funding totalling £18.3 million.

The Broomhouse Health Strategy Group was awarded almost £30,000 to run cookery and exercise sessions in a bid to encourage more people to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

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Lucy Aitchison, from the group, said: “To give people the skills to be able to look after themselves and their family more healthily is really significant. We’re so pleased to have the support to be able to address these local needs.”

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