Welcome to Scotland’s first ever participatory budgeting (PB) website.
My thanks to the team at the Scottish Community Development Centre for developing the site and to the PB Working Group for their guiding hand. I asked for the website to be developed as a platform to share and promote the excellent work that has been happening around PB in Scotland.
In these times of unprecedented political engagement in Scotland, there are many people who want to participate, but may be uninterested or alienated by traditional consultations. They may not have the time or the desire for the formal involvements of local boards and management committees. I believe that’s where PB comes into its own, as it gives people a space to contribute, while also gaining a taste of those other involvements and what they can achieve.
Many of you will know that the Scottish Government has been actively supporting efforts to build capacity and understanding of PB across Scotland. We are providing support for local authorities to engage in PB activity – and with 20 already signed up, from the Highlands to the Ayrshires, Fife, Edinburgh and Glasgow, there is the potential for a significant amount of public money to be decided on by members of the local community. We have provided a number of new PB learning resources and are funding a learning programme, developing innovative digital approaches and researching the impact of PB on communities, services and democracy.
We have further backed our support with new legislation as the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 will give new powers to Ministers to promote and facilitate the participation of members of the public in the decisions and activities of all our public authorities. PB will be one of the tools used in the allocation of resources.
Scotland’s PB events to date have been worthy trailblazers – such as Leith Decides in Edinburgh and in Fife with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust. I want to see more of these events. Community groups presenting their ideas, crowds of local people filling a bustling hall, and a vote taken that is binding rather than consultative.
Scotland already has a healthy consensus about the need to drive down inequalities of wealth and income - now is the time to also drive down inequalities of power and influence. At the community level PB is a way to give people a say as decision-makers, which is key to building a fairer Scotland.
I hope you find the new website useful as a source of information and a platform to showcase your PB activity, whether already underway or planned for the future. I look forward to being part of it.
Minister for Local Government and Community Empowerment