PB Scotland Advisory Group: Note of Meeting, June 2017

On 7th June 2017 the PB Scotland Advisory Group met to discuss the progress of participatory budgeting (PB) and the future priorities for the PB Scotland Network. Below is the note of this meeting. For information about the PB Advisory contact paul@scdc.org.uk

PB Scotland Advisory Group 7 June 2017 Note of Meeting

Present: Evelyn O’Donnell Glasgow City Council, Michele Mulvaney, City of Edinburgh Council, Pauline Grandison, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, John Duffy, North Lanarkshire, Francesca Lynch, Community Links, Mohammed Razaq, West of Scotland Race Equality Council, Dot Grieve, East Ayrshire Council, Daniel Greif, Highland Council, Mary Scott, North Ayrshire Council, Martin Robertson, TSI Moray, Fiona Garven, SCDC

Apologies: Dawn Brown, Garioch Partnership, Heather Woods, MacMillan, Paul Nelis, SCDC

In attendance: Kathleen Glazik, Scottish Government, Angela O’Hagan, Glasgow Caledonian University

The meeting of the PB Advisory Group comprised of two informal presentations from Kathleen Glazik and Angela O’Hagan, followed by open discussion:

Kathleen reported on the progress made through Scottish Government £2M support package for Community Choices in 2016/17. Self-evaluations of the projects supported through the funds disbursed in 2016/17 are currently being analysed.  Discussions are taking place between the Scottish Government and COSLA to explore how to take forward the target of having at least 1% of council budgets subject to community choices. There is commitment in SG to continue to support PB to the same level in 2017/18, subject to Ministerial approval.

Discussion points focused on digital, equalities and following the public pound.

Digital:

  • support for digital systems – issues regarding privacy and data protection
  • opportunities for synergy across local authorities on developing a common bespoke system
  • alignment with Scotland’s digital strategy – queries regarding the potential for support from digital colleagues in Scottish Government, CoSLA and the Improvement Service
  • potential for involving academia and research on digital via PhD opportunities
  • recognition of the needs (and barriers) for community organisations in adopting digital
  • recognition of the need to work with the wider community in engaging with digital, recognising equalities issues regarding access and confidence

It was agreed that a sub group should be formed to examine the above issues in more depth.

Action: FG, EO’D, MM and KG

Equalities:

It was agreed that PB Scotland should offer a learning event focused specifically on equalities.

Action: FG, PN

Following the public pound:

  • Is there a need for guidance on PB and following the public pound?
  • Evidence of some elected members raising concerns
  • Evidence that, in some cases, PB (small grants model) is subject to higher levels of scrutiny than other forms of grant making
  • Elected members, officers and communities need to develop confidence in the PB process – systems need to be robust and transparent
  • Good practice needs to be resourced
  • Some evidence that some community organisations are being expected to facilitate PB within existing service level agreements but without additional resource
  • Highlighted that the Community Choices Fund allows for support resource to plan and implement PB processes, but this must be proportionate to the funds available for disbursement
  • Still need for capacity building in local authorities, other CPP partners and community organisations
  • Need for support for PB to be written into remits of (public sector) workers, and not seen as an ‘add on’

Angela gave a summary update on the findings of the evaluation work so far. An interim report is imminent. The evaluation work is expected to continue over 2017/18. GCU is working in 20 local authority areas and is developing 6 in depth case studies. They are using a combination of focus group discussions, observation, and interviews with community organisations and activists, applicants, grant recipients, unsuccessful applicants, elected members and officials. The research is focusing on the impact on services, communities and democracy, and on equalities and diversity of participation, all in the context of early stage development given that PB is a relatively new and rapidly emerging phenomenon in Scotland with new ideas and new language.

Some of the emerging themes include;

  • Need for purpose of PB to be clearly articulated
  • Need to highlight transformational intent (Current PB mainly seen as transactional rather than transformational)
  • Work so far has generated great enthusiasm across council officers
  • Generally political support is evident
  • Highly resource intensive, raising concerns about future sustainability of the level of effort to support effective engagement
  • Different methods and formats are being used, with varied responses.
  • Largely implemented as grant making not budgeting
  • Lack of clarity about the 1% (of what?)
  • Limited evidence that the Public Sector Equality Duties, or the Community Empowerment agendas being used to drive PB are – seen as a distinct agenda
  • Some feedback about the implications of rapid political and policy change and the ability and capacity of officials (and community organisations) to digest, plan and respond
  • Difficulties in the ‘evaluability’ of outcomes at a local level (of funding patterns) but good evidence emerging of intermediate outcomes (sharing information, networking, broader awareness of range of issues)

The meeting concluded with a short discussion on priorities for the PB Scotland Network:

  • Methods for building the capacity of communities to run PB processes and engage with mainstream processes, with a focus on reducing the barriers to participation
  • Discussion needed on capturing secondary outcomes related to PB, for example, behavioural and cultural change (between communities and public sector)
  • Support for understanding how to run a robust process – transparency, clarity, who defines the criteria and how
  • Need to resolve the questions on intent and purpose of PB
  • Need for support on facilitating dialogue
  • Potential for action research – what could be different in the small grants model? Testing mainstream.

AOCB

It was suggested that the PB Scotland nominate a person to sit on the PB working group, or that representation is rotated. It was agreed that terms of reference for each group need to be agreed.

Action: FG, PN, KG

Invitation: Empowering our Communities: a pop-up day of advice, inspiration and connection

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Scotland now has ‘Community Empowerment' legislation, growing co-production and participatory budgeting (or ‘community choices') movements, and communities who are have shown the difference that community ownership of assets can make for making local places better.

  • Mon, 26th June, 9.30am Registration (10am start) - 4pm
  • Venue: The Principal, 19-21 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2PB (including lunch)
  • Register your place here.

However, many of us who are working hard to change things locally can feel cut off from sources of support and connections that could help.

 This is an invitation to a day of advice, inspiration and connection for people who have practical advice to offer, people who are starting off and eager to connect to support - and anyone in between. 

The day will be hosted by the Ingage team in Scottish Government in partnership with national community support organisations.

What's The Purpose?

The purpose of this event is to offer people

  • practical advice from others who have been there before;
  • connections to support networks and related opportunities you might not have heard about/seen and
  • space for powerful conversations about where next with ‘empowerment' and ‘co-production'.

How Will It Work?

This is a ‘pop-up' event offering a diverse range of workshops and conversations through the day.

It is being co-hosted by the Ingage Team in Scottish Government and colleagues from diverse networks supporting empowerment work.

Who's It For?

This is the right event for you if

  • You could do with a shot of inspiration, practical advice or are just curious about what else is out there and coming up in 2017/18 
  • You've got the bit between your teeth about changing culture in public service and are curious about how this connects to the community empowerment agenda
  • You feel you have something to share about what works or what could happen next in Scotland around these themes (power, collaboration, empowerment, co-production).

About the Ingage team in Scottish Government - host of this event in partnership with community support organisations

The relationship between citizen and state in Scotland is changing; Ingage is helping people in public service to change with it.

The First Minister has set out a clear ambition to reform public services and to empower people and communities, recognising the need to make government ‘more open and accessible to Scotland's people than ever before'. We are at a crucial point in that transformation of Scotland's public services.

The Ingage Team was formed, based in Scottish Government, to support us to meet these aims. The team is small, but is working within Scottish Government and across Scotland, with public services and communities, to enable, support and grow our capability and capacity to transform. We bring together colleagues with a range of experiences of working with and in different public services and settings. Our work is based on the core principles of openness, creativity and collaboration to embed ways of working that enable people to participate in the decisions that affect their lives.

There's more information and registration here

It’s Over to You! Promoting inclusion through PB in Glasgow North

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