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The Scottish Government and COSLA have announced that at least 1% of local government budgets will be decided through participatory budgeting (PB) by the end of 2021, with £100 million in council funds potentially available.
Following the inclusion of the commitment in the Scottish Government programme for government earlier in the year, the two bodies have agreed a framework for operation of the fund. Local authorities will decide how to take forward the work to reach the target by the end of the current parliament.
Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart said:
“This is a clear way of bringing democracy to local communities by giving people a direct voice in spending decisions. Through the Community Choices Fund, the Scottish Government has already invested £4.7 million in participatory budgeting activity by supporting public authorities and communities across Scotland. Last year, the fund helped over 39,000 people to have a say on spending in their local area.
“We want to see a Scotland in which everyone can play a full part in society and every community has different challenges and opportunities, which is why it is fantastic news at least 1% of local authority budgets will be subject to community choices budgeting."
COSLA spokesperson for Community Wellbeing, Councillor Kelly Parry, said:
“This framework will hopefully see Scotland’s Councils building on strong examples of participatory democracy. I am looking forward to a growth in the number of cases where local people express their needs and preferences and engage in decision making that will improve their lives. COSLA is committed to ensuring local democracy is strengthened.
“The Commission for Strengthening Local Democracy, stated that we see participatory budgeting as becoming ‘the standard by which [participation in decision making] is delivered in Scotland’. If we are to achieve this and build trust we must see our public sector partners, including the Scottish Government, being engaged in using the process as part of the way we work.”
The recipients of the Scottish Government’s Community Choices Fund was recently announced, and includes support to local authorities as community groups to take participatory budgeting approaches forward.
Read the full press release here.