What is PB? 

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a way for local people to have a direct say in how public money is spent.


It's used across the world and now in Scotland, helping communities decide on the issues important to them. Done right, PB empowers citizens, builds trust in democracy and can improve the way public money is spent.

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PB can be done in different ways, but usually involves bringing people together through local events and online to learn about specific projects or ideas and then cast a vote. 

"If it feels like we have decided, it’s PB. If it feels like someone else has decided, it isn’t."

What does PB look like? 

Introducing small grants and mainstream PB...

Small Grants

Small grants PB sees a set pot of money dispersed by people voting on what projects or ideas should be funded. Up until now, most PB in Scotland has been using the small grants model. This means that a funder has provided a certain amount of money to be dispersed through a PB process.

More than 40,000 votes were cast in 2016/17 as part of the Community Choices voting events, which used the small grants model. 

Mainstream PB

Mainstream PB uses voting to decide on much larger, public body budgets – budgets usually decided on by local authorities, for example. Mainstream PB has the potential to be much more transformative as, if done well, means local people can vote for things that are important to them. This means better decisions that can meet the needs of local people.

While Mainstream PB is still developing in Scotland we have launched 'Moving Toward the Mainstream' A new film about the next steps for participatory budgeting in Scotland.

Mainstream PB is developing quickly in Scotland, with local councils and the Scottish Government agreeing to have 1% decided through participatory budgeting by the end of 2021.