What is participatory budgeting?
Initially developed in Brazil, participatory budgeting (PB) is recognised internationally as a way for local people to have a direct say in how, and where, public funds can be used to address local requirements.
Different PB models exist, although it normally involves members of the community deciding through a voting process how to spend part of the budget of a public agency such as a local authority.
PB is one method which can be used alongside other models of community engagement and empowerment as part of a wider strategic approach to advancing participatory democracy. A participatory democracy is a healthy democracy, in which people have influence over what happens to them, their families and their communities. When people are engaged in community life, they are more likely to experience positive health and life outcomes. Community empowerment and a deepening of participatory democracy are essential in redressing the inequalities that exist within our society.
Last month the Scottish Co-production Network hosted a very successful learning event exploring the relationship between co-production, participatory budgeting and commissioning processes through real examples about what works in co-producing budgets.
Local residents have their say on how money is spent on a number of projects in their community, thanks to a new participatory budgeting initiative launched by Midlothian Council.
On 31 March 2017 Cornerstone House Centre. Cumbernauld hosted the final PB event where 21 local community groups shared £24,000. Funding for activities between £268 to £1790 was presented to local groups.
The Scottish Government has announced that the 2017/18 Community Choices Fund is open for applications.
PB was discussed at the Church of Scotland General Assembly, where people heard from congregations who have been part of the projects.
It takes a lot to fill a community hall on a rainy Saturday morning, but for the people of the Woodburn and Dalkeith communities, the chance to showcase their local activities and bid for their share of £18,000 was just enough to whet their appetites.
With local election turnout still relatively low, where do we start with getting people more engaged – and where does participatory budgeting fit in?
As Participatory Budgeting moves from Grants to Mainstream Budgets the PB Advisory Group are looking for clarity about the road ahead.
ng homes has written a blog about its work with young people across North Glasgow, culminating in a Community Choices budgeting event on 28th March in Springburn Academy, Glasgow.
In this blog, David Ramsay, Development Worker, Glasgow Homelessness Network, goes into detail about some of the work he carried out to engage people in Glasgow community budgeting events which took place last year.
Guten Tag! Buenas Noches! Bonsoir! Good evening! were the welcomes which kicked off the evening at Woodside Hall in Maryhill on Thursday 20th April 2017. Community groups of all sizes came together to submit their ideas for promoting inclusion in Glasgow North.
UpNorth! Community Chest has provided a blog reporting on the recent PB process in Tongue, Sutherland on the March 11th 2017.
The event in Orkney demonstrates the innate flexibility of the PB process. The inter-island vote and discussion on the day were a masterclass in co-operation.
Where else other than a PB event would community projects offer each other the free use of a hearing loop, a spare couple of desks for working at and hens for a chicken coop?
In March Castlemilk saw participatory budgeting with a twist. They called it ‘community funding’, but rather than being about a community of place this event was about funding for two school communities.
There is a growing interest within policy and practice in Scotland in PB and in participatory democracy more generally. In June 2015, Community Empowerment Minister Marco Biagi visited PB projects in Durham and Manchester to find out how they have involved thousands of people in the area. With 20 local authorities now signed up to the concept in Scotland it is an approach that will dramatically develop over the next year.
PB Scotland acts as a hub for sharing and learning about the great work being done by PB initiatives around Scotland. It provide updates on events, policy and resources relevant to PB in Scotland, and profile good examples of PB in action.
Please get in touch to tell us about your PB work and help us share it more widely.
PB Scotland has been developed by Scottish Community Development Centre with funding from the Scottish Government. A special thanks to Leith Neighbourhood Partnership for providing photos from the £eith Decides PB initiative. Photos taken by Vanessa Roy.
PB working group
Members of the PB Working Group are working with the Scottish Government to build capacity in Scotland to ensure PB is delivered in a meaningful and sustainable way. Members are:
- Fiona Garven, Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC)
- Angus Hardie, Scottish Community Alliance
- Dr. Oliver Escobar, University of Edinburgh
- Martin Johnstone, Church & Society Council
- Ruchir Shah, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)
- Anil Gupta, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
- Alistair Stoddart, The Democratic Society
Expert advice is also provided by Jez Hall and Alan Budge from PB Partners.
For more information on the PB working group please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.