This WWS policy briefing reviews how participatory budgeting (PB) has become central to advancing three policy agendas in Scotland – public service reform, community empowerment and social justice – and examines the requirements to mainstream PB including the co-production of new systems, new mindsets and ways of working. This is an open access resource, you can read online or download the PDF.
The open access ebook Hope for democracy: 30 years of participatory budgeting worldwide is the largest collection of articles about participatory budgeting (PB) on a global scale.
One chapter outlines key lessons from the Scottish experience so far. Participatory budgeting in Scotland: The interplay of public service reform, community empowerment and social justice was co-written by members of the PB Working Group, which works with civil society and the Scottish Government to inform and advance the development of PB.
The authors highlight how PB has become central to policy action that aims to advance community empowerment and public service reform. The chapter shows the importance of the interplay between civil society and government in opening a window of opportunity for this democratic innovation.
They conclude that the mainstreaming of PB which is now under way in Scotland, carves up space for more complex participatory participatory and deliberative processes to decide on core local government budgets. However, for PB to make a substantial difference in the lives of citizens and communities, democratic innovators (i.e. politicians, activists, public servants) across Scotland will have to overcome challenges related to culture, capacity, politics, legitimacy and sustainability.
For more information about PB in Scotland, visit the WWS website.
Equality and community engagement are central to core policy developments and frameworks that guide current public sector reform: i.e. Christie Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services; Community Empowerment Act 2015; Fairer Scotland; Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy.
The key motivation for this review of the literature is to explore the intersection between community engagement and inequality. This is important because inequalities in health, wealth, income, education and so on, can be arguably seen as stemming from inequalities in power and influence. Therefore, community engagement processes can simply reproduce existing inequalities, unless they are designed and facilitated to distribute influence by ensuring diversity and inclusion.
Find out more and download the publication in our WWS website.
The Commission on Parliamentary Reform presented its report to the Scottish Parliament on 20th June 2017. The report is available HERE. Since November 2016 the Commission has met with and considered the views of over twelve hundred people from across Scotland including MSPs and former MSPs, academics, the third sector and members of the public. The report makes a series of recommendations which collectively will strengthen the Parliament’s scrutiny role and encourage wider engagement and democratic innovation.
First launched in 2016/17, the Community Choices Fund is a new fund to support participatory budgeting (PB) in Scotland. Targeted particularly at work in deprived areas, the fund aims to build on the support provided by the Scottish Government for PB since 2014 as part of a broader agenda around democratic innovation and engaged citizenship. PB empowers local people to make decisions on local spending priorities and contribute to local democracy.
The Programme for Government 2016/17 included a commitment that the Scottish Government will continue to work with local government and communities on having at least 1% of council budget subject to Community Choices budgeting. The 1% target is also one of five commitments included in the Scottish Government’s Open Government Partnership national action plan published in December 2016.
Community Choices supports one of the principles of Public Service Reform, that people should have equal opportunity to participate and have their voice heard in decisions shaping their local community and society. Finally it complements the aspirations of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 which will help give communities more powers to take forward their own ambitions. To continue to support the growth of PB in Scotland the Community Choices Fund is available again for 2017/18.
The total fund available for applications is £1.5 million and will be available in two categories:
- Category one is £750,000 for Public Authorities from a minimum bid of £20,000 up to a maximum bid of £100,000.
- Category two is £750,000 for Community Organisations and Community Councils from a minimum bid of £20,000 up to a maximum bid of £100,000.
The funding is available to allocate to projects, to run the PB process itself whether small projects or mainstreaming, training & development, capacity building and support for communities. For Public Authorities, the funding to allocate to projects will be awarded on a match funding basis only to the lead applicant, although joint bids including project funding from other partners are welcome.
The PB Scotland website www.PBScotland.scot provides more information about community choices events, policy and resources in Scotland, and profiles examples, pictures and videos of Community Choices in action.
On 26 October 2016, the independent Commission on Parliamentary Reform was established by the Presiding Officer to look at how the Scottish Parliament can engage better with the people of Scotland and how its work can be improved to deliver better scrutiny.
These are some notes I’ve made to guide my input to the Commission’s evidence session on 25th November 2016. They outline ideas, questions and arguments to inform democratic innovation at the Scottish Parliament.
Click here so see more information about the Commission, how it works and how to contribute.