Everyone is talking about Participatory Budgeting again, well that is how it feels in my world as I get invited to attend meetings to look at and discuss PB …… So here is my run through of what is happening nationally and locally:
- The national PB conference funded by the Scottish Government is being held on the 14th November and is a sell-out.
- And last Friday there was an announcement from the Scottish Government that the Council leaders have agreed that at least 1% of local government budgets will be subject to participatory budgeting by the end of 2021.
- The list of organisations that received the Scottish Government Community Choices funding was recently announced and in Edinburgh £44k went to City of Edinburgh Council, £82,800 went to Leith Links Community Council and £23,750 went to the Broomhouse Centre. Just about £150k to support the adoption of the PB process in the City.
- City of Edinburgh Council PB Champions project, looking to upskill public sector and third sector staff in PB project development. (before March 2018)
- PB projects which are planned in the coming 6 months:
- Choose Youth Work 2018-2019 Grants Programme (Nov – Dec)
- Leith Chooses (Leith Links Community Council and Leith Neighbourhood Partnership joint project) (estimated Feb/March)
- Portobello and Craigmillar Neighbourhood Partnership (estimated Feb)
- Neighbourhood Environment Funding – City Centre (before March 2018)
- Broomhouse Neighbourhood Centre (before March 2018)
At EVOC we have heard good and bad about PB, you can read the report from our thinkSpace here, we commend the drive to improve local democracy and see PB as an effective community engagement tool, however making sure that this PB is done well is vital for the third sector organisations taking part. Learning from past PB projects is necessary particularly as we see larger parts of the council budgets being allocated in this way. The devil is in the detail in the coordination and operation of PB events and giving adequate time and thought to the design is vital, this is best done with a steering group that has all stakeholders on board including local voluntary organisations.
For anyone asked to take part in a steering group we would suggest that they make sure they have read the Values Principles and Standards for Participatory Budgeting and National Standards for Community Engagement.
The more I read about and work with PB projects the more I realise that what seems very simple needs a lot of careful thought and deliberation to create something worthwhile which really drives local democracy.