Initially developed in Brazil, participatory budgeting (PB) means local people have a direct say in how funding is spent.
PB can be used to decide how to spend any type of budget, but it normally involves members of the community deciding through a voting process how to spend part of the budget of a public agency such as a local council. You can see what PB looks like here.
PB has really taken off in Scotland over the last few years, helped by the Scottish Government’s Community Choices fund, which has funded local authorities and community organisations to organise PB in their local areas. In most cases, this has consisted of community events where voluntary organisations and community groups have bid for funding, with local people getting to decide which projects get funded. You can see some examples here.
There are three main ways that community organisations in Scotland might be interested in taking part in PB:
You could find out where local PB is being planned and apply to bid for funding – you would normally have to think of a specific project or piece of work that would need funding, and make a pitch for this. An example is Keith and District Men’s Shed which successfully bid for funding in a previous Money for Moray PB event. You can find events on the PB Scotland website and through search engines.
You could think about helping to organise PB locally, possibly with other local organisations. Most community-led PB programmes have received funding from Community Choices, so it would be good to keep an eye out for any future rounds of funding. More information is available here, although the 2018/19 funding round is now closed.
You could get in touch with your local council to see what PB processes they might have, especially since local authorities have committed to using 1% of their budgets through PB by 2021.