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.
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.
East Ayrshire Tenants and Residents Federation use PB to benefit older and younger residents of Hurlford, Galston and Crookedholm.
North Carrick use £80,000 to fund 4 projects that they hope will lead to transformational change in the surrounding villages.
Read the write up from the PB Scotland Network’s first learning event on the 22nd February at Townhead Village Hall in Glasgow.
You wouldn't normally expect to combine decision-making about local funding with a full pipe band on Burns night. But when decisions are put in the hands of the community, anything seems possible. Read PB Scotland's report from the Govan community budgeting event on the 25th January 2017.
North Ayrshire have now completed their PB pilot. The events were well supported, attracting in excess of 550 local people and community groups who took part in deciding how the £72,000 grant funding would be allocated.
Hundreds of local residents in South Lanarkshire attended a number of ‘Community Decision Making Days’ to have their say on how funding should be allocated in their local area.
The International PB Conference brought together more than 200 people across two days to learn about participatory budgeting (PB) and see how it can help shape democracy in Scotland and beyond.
In the latest events as part of tsiMoray’s ‘Canny Wi’ Cash’ initiative, eighteen charities and community groups have benefited from a total of £15,000, which has been distributed through a PB voting process.
25 community groups are celebrating after landing fresh funding to help support their work. Around 100 people turned out to take part in the 'Prestwick and Villages Decides' event.
While the small Ayrshire town is experienced at hosting the Open International Golf Tournament which returns this summer, this PB process was something really new for residents.
Giovanni Allegretti shares his knowledge of PB from around the world at this PB event in Edinburgh. He said we need to keep our eye on inequalities and make sure the process supports this aim.
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 email@example.com.