A recently released statement by the Scottish Government indicates a significant boost to Participatory Budgeting (PB). This follows a commitment in the Programme for Government announced by Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland to expand Participatory Budgeting activity north of the border.
Now Community Empowerment Minister Marco Biagi has announced more communities will be able to vote on how councils spend money through new Scottish Government funding of nearly £500,000.
Thirteen councils will receive a share of the fund, which will give people the opportunity to decide where investment should be directed in their local community. This will help fund over 50 participatory budgeting projects across Scotland. The investment will be used to match-fund existing council commitments, provide support for participatory budgeting events, support communities to engage with the process, evaluation and learning.
For example, it will help Edinburgh City Council run participatory budgeting events, as advocated by Common Weal in early 2015, with one tailored to young people, encouraging them to move onto training, education or employment.
Fiona Garven, director of the Scottish Community Development Centre and member of the Scottish Participatory Budgeting Working Group, which represents the views of organisations interested in democratic participation said:
“Good participatory budgeting offers opportunities for people across a diverse range of groups to engage in discussions about what matters to them, their families and their communities. As a vital part of a wider strategic approach to advancing community participation and empowerment, PB provides a mechanism for local services to be designed and decided upon directly by the people who use them, ensuring those services best meet community needs and aspirations."