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We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others

CommunitiesWhy is this National Outcome important?

People are more likely to live fulfilling lives and realise their social and economic potential in strong, resilient and supportive communities. Communities that are tolerant, and where people support each other, provide a better quality of life. They allow a greater proportion of people to contribute to a growing economy, lead healthier, more independent lives and live in a more sustainable way that is better for the environment. Being part of a strong community gives us the support we need locally. It minimises crime, antisocial behaviour and their social and economic costs. And it allows us to bring up our young people to be successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

A strong community is one which is secure and welcoming, with access to high quality services and amenities. It is a place where people recognise their responsibilities and their rights and it has a legal framework whose laws and practices respect and protect diversity, promote tolerance and maximise the opportunities for everybody to thrive. By building strong, resilient and supportive communities we will also help to promote Scotland's quality of life, attracting and retaining talented individuals and businesses.

What will influence this National Outcome?

Many of Scotland's communities are great places to live and work. However, some remain blighted by prejudice, inequalities and poor physical conditions. These are not problems that can be turned around overnight, but by working in partnership we can improve the quality of life for those living in communities suffering from a range of problems often associated with deprivation. Tackling these challenges will require a joint commitment from all sectors of Scottish Society.

We can create the conditions in which strong communities grow by developing a housing market responsive to supply and demand, by improving existing housing and regenerating disadvantaged communities. These efforts involve central and local government, alongside many other organisations and (crucially) Community Planning Partnerships - which are uniquely placed to devise solutions for local communities. This partnership approach can build the strong physical infrastructure required to create economic and social success.

But there is more to this than having the right physical environment. We need a vibrant democracy, with increased engagement in voluntary activity and public life. Our ability, as a nation, to tackle the corrosive effects of bigotry and prejudice head-on, while supporting vulnerable people to carry on living in their own communities, should be a hallmark of what makes us Scottish - a national identity, of which we can be proud. This requires every one of us to play our part as a responsible citizen. And fundamental to the development of stronger communities is a modern legal framework which commands public confidence and protects people from unfair treatment by the state, by businesses or by other people. A framework which provides access to justice, allows disputes to be resolved effectively and holds public services to account for their actions.

What is the Government's role?

Government cannot create strong, resilient and supportive communities on its own, but it can take the lead in creating the conditions in which these communities can develop and flourish. We can do this through investment, by promoting positive behaviour, tackling discrimination and providing a fair and modern framework for resolving disputes when they do arise.

We have invested £1.65 billion between 2008 and 2011 in affordable housing across Scotland. In addition, the £435 million Fairer Scotland Fund will be used by local authorities and their community planning partners to tackle poverty and deprivation. Further action will be taken to promote regeneration in some of Scotland's most deprived areas - with £87 million being allocated to 4 of Scotland's Urban Regeneration Companies, allowing those communities to benefit from comprehensive regeneration and we will ensure that investment promotes inclusive communities. An example of this is our work, in partnership with local government, to help disabled and vulnerable people live independently by providing housing support services and by assisting homeowners who need financial support to improve their housing conditions (including through the installation of disability adaptations).

Effective and modern public services (e.g. police, fire, criminal justice, social work) can support the development of stronger communities across Scotland. Substantial investment in these services will continue, alongside reform to ensure they operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.

New laws will be promoted to tackle unacceptable forms of discrimination, extending hate crime legislation to protect disabled people and people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Practical efforts to crack-down on sectarianism and religious discrimination will continue. We are reviewing the national antisocial behaviour strategy to deliver more effective joined up action and to ensure that communities themselves are better engaged to help find their own solutions. A radical programme to modernise our civil justice system will be developed, taking account of Lord Gill's review of the civil courts, due to report in 2009. Based on that review we will take forward reforms to broaden access to justice, improve efficiency and promote new and more accessible ways to resolve disputes. And we will free up local government, and strengthen our support for civic engagement and empowered communities.

Related Strategic Objectives

Safer and Stronger