Democracy Matters

Closed 28 Feb 2024

Opened 28 Aug 2023


Somebody, somewhere is making decisions on your behalf. Democracy Matters conversations have already started to explore whether far more of these decisions could be made by communities themselves. This is a key and connected part of the wider Local Governance Review which is looking across all of Scotland’s vital public services to consider how power and resources should be shared between national and local government.

Read the full discussion document 

Read the easy read discussion document

Read the full discussion document in Gaelic

Read our facilitation guidance

British Sign Language Translation

Below is a translation of the Democracy Matters discussion document into British sign language. These videos will be available as you work through the Democracy Matters questions.

The journey so far


Helping to imagine a different democratic future


A different democratic future






Accountability and participation


Setting local boundaries and priorities


Standards, Resources and Relationships


Nurturing Community Capacity

Democracy Matters so far

More than 4,000 people took part in the first phase of Democracy Matters conversations in hundreds of locations. People came together in their communities of place and interest to consider a small number of broad questions:

  • About their experience of getting involved in local decision-making processes.
  • Whether they would like their community to have more control over some decisions, and what these might cover.
  • The different types and sizes of communities that would make most sense when taking decisions about their future.
  • The structures and processes that would allow for power to be exercised by communities.

What people have told us so far about their desire for much greater control over what happens in the places they know best creates an exciting opportunity to promote what could be the biggest transformation to democracy since devolution. You can find the first phase findings report here.

Get involved

This consultation provides another opportunity for as many voices as possible to be heard to help shape future local democratic systems and processes.

You can respond as an individual, an organisation or you can hold a conversation and respond as a community. You can send your response by clicking the link at the bottom of this page under have your say. Alternatively, you can send us your views by email to or by post to Area 3F, Victoria Quay, Edinburgh EH6 6QQ. Please ensure that you send a completed Respondent Information Form with any email or postal response.

If you feel your community would benefit from financial support to hold Democracy Matters conversation, grants of up to £300 are available to help with anything that would be required to get a conversation going. For example, hiring a venue, printing costs, facilitation or to help with costs of those with additional needs to participate. 

Find out more and apply for a grant 

Host a conversation

We are asking people across Scotland to have conversations in their communities based on the new Democracy Matters material. We want you to reflect on the ideas that we set out in the scenario in the next page, and tell us whether these are the kinds of governance arrangements that could meet the needs and aspirations of your communities.

By hosting a conversation you can come together and agree on a response that is reflective of your wider community.

To help you and your community hold a conversation that is inclusive and interesting we have developed some facilitation guidance which offers some fun ideas on how to approach the Democracy Matters questions which can be found under supporting documents here. We encourage you to consider all of the questions but if your community is particuarly interested in answering some of the questions that is fine, just leave the questions you don't answer blank. 

When you are writing your responses on behalf of your community, please try to ensure that your responses reflect the conclusions of the group as accurately as possible. Do what you can to show us where there was consensus and where there were important differences in opinion. If different groups within your conversation had different perspectives, please indicate that too. 

At the end of this consultation you will be asked if you are replying as an individual, organisation or community conversation. If you are submitting a response from a community conversation please select this option, you will then be directed to further questions about how your conversation occurred and which groups took part. These questions are optional.

Why your views matter

What people tell us will involve considering if some decisions about a wide range of Scotland’s vital public services that are currently the responsibility of either national or local government should be taken closer to the people they most affect.

This will guide the work which Scottish Government, local government, public sector partners, and the community sector will need to do together to design in detail how the new arrangements could be made to work in practice in diverse community settings.

An ambitious approach to changing how powers and resources are shared will be complex. In the first phase of Democracy Matters conversations people told us we should continue to work with them, and take the necessary time to get it right.

  • we must be sure future arrangements respond to people’s desire for all communities to have the right to take real power into their own hands, but to be able to do this their own way and at their own pace.
  • we must be sure these arrangements are set up in a way that will benefit everyone, particularly those who experience negative outcomes under current decision-making arrangements.

To provide that reassurance, a further stage of deliberation will follow the Democracy Matters conversations. This will involve people being invited to come together in different places to consider future arrangements set out in detail.

Getting in touch

You can keep up to date with how Democracy Matters conversations are going and find out about how other communities are pursuing conversations by subscribing to our newsletter.

We have a Twitter page where everyone can follow to stay up to date with major events or information about Democracy Matters.

If you require any further materials for your conversations, or the consultation questions in another language, reach out to us at


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