The SNP is setting the pace in Scottish politics and amongst the many pledges in its 2016 manifesto is a target of at least 1% of all local government spending being decided through ‘Community Choices’, the brand name of Scottish PB.
Over the last year or two UK PB Network members has been excited to see the widespread adoption of PB across Scotland, and looks forward to this continuing.
Under the section within the SNP manifesto on Participation is this statement. Its the first policy proposal to appear in that section:
"The Community Empowerment Act delivered new rights for communities and is backed by the Empowering Communities Fund and the Strengthening Communities Programme.
We will build on this by setting councils a target of having at least 1 per cent of their budget subject to Community Choices budgeting. This will be backed by the Community Choices Fund to help public bodies and community groups build on examples of best practice."
Launching the manifesto Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP’s leader, said there would be a focus on community ownership and participatory budgeting.
“We will work with local authorities to review their roles and responsibilities and get more powers into the hands of communities."
Participatory Budgeting is being used by all sides of the political spectrum, from Conservative Windsor and Maidenhead to Labour controlled Durham County Council. Plaid Cymru in Wales backs more PB, as do members of the Green Party. If Scotland achieves the 1% target that could easily amount to over £160m annually decided by Scottish citizens.
Across the world democratic innovations in direct democracy, as explored on the Participedia website, and demonstrated by PB in Paris and New York continue to show that participatory budgeting is an idea whose time has come.