At a meeting in early March 2015 of the OGP civil society network, Sue Ritchie, acting chair of the PB Network, posed the radical idea of 1% of all public expenditure being decided through an open, participatory democracy process , based on PB best practice around the world.
This in turn stimulated a blog by Oliver Ritchie of OPM, that explored whether a 1% commitment could really work within our centralised and regulated democratic culture. An extract from Oliver’s blog, Spending the 1% is below:
"An amount of that size dedicated to participatory budgeting – in the hope of empowering the population to make decisions about how their taxes are spent in a direct and meaningful way to compliment the slower machinery of our democratic system – is an exciting, yet radical proposal. After all, 1% of the UK government budget equates to well over £7 billion a year when calculated against the £730 billion spent by government in 2014-15."
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is an international network of governments that have committed to a more transparaent and participatory approach to their work, as a way of improving how they spend public money and deliver essential services. Open government is generally seen about sharing data, but the principle of public engagement in democratic processes is much wider than that.
The UK is a founding member of OGP, and as part of renewing its commitments the OGP Civil Society Network, coordinated by Involve, has been discussing how to extend its remit, through the preparation of an OGP civil society network manifesto. A part of that conversation has become focussed on Participatory Budgeting at a national level.