This series of public and private events was a unique opportunity for policy makers and politicians in England and Scotland to develop a deeper awareness, interest and commitment to citizen participation in mainstream budgeting, and learn about the exciting new approaches being tried in the USA. Across the world, including in the UK and the USA, citizens are benefiting when forward-thinking governments use PB approaches.
The tide of Participatory Budgeting is continuing to sweep the world, with growing numbers of US elected members enthusiastically trusting residents with big budgets in big cities.
At the centre of the US movement are (pictured right) Josh Lerner from the North American PB Project and Alderman Joe Moore, from Chicago. They completed a whistle-stop tour of some of some key decision makers and budget holders who have the power and potential to move PB on in Britain to mainstream budgets.
Why this visit is timely to the UK
After the flurry of PB in the days of the last government, a more mature approach means PB is becoming increasingly relevant. There are glimpses of this in the repeated PB processes on mainstream public budgets that define PB at its most successful.
- Last year’s Glasgow council elections saw the two main parties having manifesto commitments to direct community involvement in local budgets.
- In the run up to next year’s referendum the Scottish Government is interested in how to devolve further budget-power to communities.
- Durham County Council has had thousands of people turning up to local leisure centres to deliberate and decide over the last few years.
- Tower Hamlets are building on their groundbreaking early PB work to bring extra accountability to their work in neighbourhoods.
- Many of the 41 new English Police Commissioners are interested in PB.
- The Emerging Co-operative Council Network has principles overlay neatly with those of PB
- Reforms in the health, education and housing sectors also mean new opportunities to directly engage citizens in budget decisions.
There are many reasons for mayors, police commissioners, devolved governments and savvy local authorities to act on the public demand for a deeper kind of localism. And much to learn from recent US experiences.
The tour was coordinated by Church Action on Poverty (CAP), as the culmination of its People’s Budget campaign. It was facilitated by PB Partners, a new social enterprise consultancy for PB, and the emerging PB Network. The PB Network is working to connect PB work across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and is the legacy body emerging out of the work of the PB Unit. CAP hosted the Participatory Budgeting Unit from 2006 until 2012. Their work led to the growth of the PB model in the UK.
Highlights of the exchange visit included:
- Seminar in Manchester on Monday 22 April at the offices of Church Action on Poverty.
- Briefing and meetings with Durham County Council.
- Briefing with Derek MacKay, Minister for Local Government and Planning in the Scottish Parliament.
- Meeting with local councillors and interested parties in Glasgow.
- Meeting with Lambeth Borough Council’s leader and senior officers.
- Lunchtime seminar in partnership with The Young Foundation.
- Informal briefing to staff at the Department of Communities and Local Government.
For more information on the tour:
- Email Jez Hall from PB Partners or call him on 07963 706106
- See the PB Partners website
- Archive website of the PB Unit
- North American Participatory Budgeting Project
- Alderman Joe Moore
Biographies of key participants
Joe Moore, Alderman, 49th Ward, Chicago
Known as a pioneer for political reform, governmental transparency and democratic governance, Joe Moore has represented Chicago’s 49th Ward since 1991. Encompassing the majority of Chicago’s Rogers Park community and portions of the Edgewater and West Ridge communities, the 49th Ward is one of the nation’s most economically and racially diverse communities.
Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1958, and raised in Oak Lawn and Evanston, Illinois, Moore has lived in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood since 1980. He has two sons, Nathan (21) and Zachary (14). Moore’s wife, Barbara, contributes a great amount of volunteer time to the 49th Ward community, including coordinating the activities of the 49th Ward Green Corps and chairing the Glenwood Sunday Market Board of Directors.
Moore graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1976, earned a BA from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois in 1980, and received a JD from DePaul University Law School in 1984. From 1984 to 1991, Moore worked as an attorney in the City of Chicago’s Department of Law, first in the department’s Appeals Division, where he argued cases before the Illinois Appellate Court, the Illinois Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and later in the department’s Affirmative Litigation Division, where he worked to recover millions of dollars on behalf of the City’s taxpayers.
Moore won re-election in 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and most recently in 2011, when he received 72% of the vote. He is chairman of the City Council Committee on Human Relations and also serves on the following City Council committees: Budget and Government Operations; Finance; Health and Environmental Protection; and Rules and Ethics.
Josh is the Executive Director of the Participatory Budgeting Project, a non-profit organisation that helps communities decide how to spend public money. He completed his PhD in Politics at The New School for Social Research and a Masters in Planning at the University of Toronto. In addition to teaching at Fordham University and The New School, he has worked as a popular educator with the Center for the Urban Environment and as a community development adviser on UNDP projects in Slovakia.
For the past decade, he has researched participatory democracy in Latin America, North America and Europe, and advised organisations and institutions such as Toronto Community Housing, the Right to the City Alliance, and the Municipality of Rosario, Argentina. He has written for The Christian Science Monitor, The National Civic Review, YES! Magazine, The Good Society, Shelterforce, The Movement Vision Lab, and the Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management.
Jez Hall, PB Partners
Jez has worked on promoting Participatory Budgeting (PB) in the UK since August 2000, and is regarded as one of the leading experts on PB in the country. He helped found the PB Unit in 2006 and worked as an associate of the Unit for many years. Jez has spoken at national and International conferences on PB and contributed to published academic papers on the subject. He helped develop the PB Unit’s toolkits and delivered training on PB for local practitioners, frontline staff, heads of department and up to chief executives and senior elected members.
Jez is on the advisory board for the Participatory Budgeting Project, based in New York. He was previously employed by Lancaster University Management School as a social enterprise business analyst, and between 2005 and 2007 served as a non-executive director of Central Manchester Primary Care Trust, with oversight of community engagement and children services. He spent 10 years working for a community architecture charity advising community groups on project development, community organising and community-led regeneration. In 2009 he established Shared Future CIC, a not for profit company specialising in supporting new and existing Social Enterprises and undertaking a range of consultancy services linked to delivering meaningful community empowerment.
Vince Howe, PB Partners
Vince will be on some of the tour. Vince first discovered PB over 10 years ago, and from 2006 to 2009 was a member of the National PB Reference group and advised on the first National Strategy for PB. Vince managed the Social Policy Team at Newcastle City Council, following on from a decade of work in Regeneration. Engaging with communities is at the heart of all of his work. For the past 3 years he’s been an associate of the PB Unit, advising groups and public agencies. Vince was responsible for introducing the award winning Udecide programme into Newcastle upon Tyne. He has extensive experience across the UK working with LA’s in Scotland and in England.
Barbara will be accompanying Joe Moore and attending some of the meetings. Based in Chicago, Barbara serves as the Executive Director of Democratic Municipal Officials (DMO), a national organisation of City Council Members, Mayors and other elected officials. DMO represents over 6,000 elected officials.
Earlier in her career, Barbara served as the Executive Director of IVI-IPO (a progressive statewide political organisation), worked on political campaigns, and – just like Barack Obama – was a professional community organiser on the south-east side of Chicago.
She is the wife of Chicago Alderman Joe Moore. She created the 49th Ward Green Corps to empower and support local environmental efforts, and regularly supports community organizations by donning her apron and opening her home to host fundraisers on their behalf.