Communities will be able to vote on how councils spend money through a funding boost of nearly £500,000, Community Empowerment Minister Marco Biagi has announced.
Thirteen councils will receive a share of the participatory budgeting fund, which will give people the opportunity to decide where investment should be directed in their local community.
The investment will be used to match-fund existing council commitments, provide support for participatory budgeting events, support communities to engage with the process, evaluation and learning.
This will help fund over 50 participatory budgeting projects across Scotland.
For example, it will help Edinburgh City Council run participatory budgeting events, with one tailored to young people, encouraging them to move onto training, education or employment. Through participatory budgeting young people can develop and shape their service choice, choosing whether they want to fund street soccer or invest in employability initiatives.
In Midlothian the council will be working in partnership with the local development trust and Sure Start on a participatory budgeting project aimed at helping vulnerable families living in deprived areas.
Mr Biagi said:
“In these times of unprecedented political engagement in Scotland, there are many people who want to participate, but don’t get involved in traditional consultations. Participatory budgeting gives them a sense of ownership and removes barriers that can often come between them and being involved in local decision making.
“This funding will give people the opportunity to address the issues that are important to their communities.
“We are now seeing participatory budgeting building momentum in Scotland. This funding will help make it possible for over 50 projects to take place in 2016, a huge expansion on the two dozen or so projects that have taken place in the last few years.”
A number of participatory budgeting events will be led by the council in collaboration with key stakeholders in their areas, with some providing funding such as the Third Sector Interface, Big Lottery, Coalfields Regeneration Trust, Police Scotland & Scottish Fire and Rescue.
Fiona Garven from the Participatory Budgeting Working Group, which represents organisations interested in democratic participation said:
“Citizens and communities having influence over the decisions that affect them, and the ways in which public resources are allocated is the foundation of a participatory democracy. The Scottish PB working group welcomes the initiative by the Scottish Government to support more development of participatory budgeting approaches, and the commitment of the participating local authorities to extend their democratic processes through opening up budget decisions to people.
“Good participatory budgeting offers opportunities for people across a diverse range of groups to engage in discussions about what matters to them, their families and their communities. As a vital part of a wider strategic approach to advancing community participation and empowerment, PB provides a mechanism for local services to be designed and decided upon directly by the people who use them, ensuring those services best meet community needs and aspirations.
“The PB working group looks forward to continuing to provide support to participatory budgeting in Scotland as a key part of the community empowerment and democratic renewal agenda.”
Read the full Scottish Government news story here, which lists which local authorities have been funded.