The Registered Social Landlords (RSL) movement in Scotland is already characterised by extensive resident involvement and an emphasis on community improvement. However, the social inclusion agenda places increasing emphasis on the need to invest in people and communities alongside investment in bricks and mortar. This will place new demands and expectations on RSLs. This Precis reports on recent research on community empowerment and social capital development by RSLs in Scotland.
Policy makers have become increasingly interested in the concept of social capital in relation to issues of empowerment, participation and social inclusion. Stated simply, social capital refers to the stock of trust, collective norms and values and the social networks that can be drawn upon by a local community to address and solve collective problems. High levels of civic engagement, mutual aid and social interaction are seen as the essential elements of a healthy community and the foundations for successful community development and regeneration. As housing policy has moved towards a more holistic approach to neighbourhood revitalisation these considerations have become more prominent.