Participatory budgeting projects get Scottish Government backing

11 Jan 16

The Scottish Government announced a £500,000 fund to promote participatory budgeting schemes in communities across Scotland.

The allocation, to be match funded by the 13 recipient local authorities, is expected to underpin 50 projects by both helping to finance community budgeting events and supporting communities to become engaged in the process. 

It reflects a growing interest in the participatory budgeting principle among Scottish National Party ministers. Local government minister Marco Biagi said the concept would enable people to address directly the issues that were important to their communities.

“In these times of unprecedented political engagement in Scotland, there are many people who want to participate, but don’t get involved in traditional consultations. Participatory budgeting gives them a sense of ownership and removes barriers that can often come between them and being involved in local decision making,” Biagi said.

“We are now seeing participatory budgeting building momentum in Scotland. This funding will help make it possible for more than 50 projects to take place in 2016, a huge expansion on the two dozen or so projects that have taken place in the last few years.”

Around 20 of Scotland’s 32 unitary authorities are so far involved in participatory budgeting initiatives of varying sizes. One of the biggest is in the Western Isles, where some £500,000 has been committed to help communities shape delivery of a new bus service. 

Biagi said that many of the events that the new funding will support would be delivered in partnership with major local stakeholders, such as Police Scotland, the Big Lottery and the Third Sector Interfaces network.

The allocation was welcomed by the working group representing organisations with an involvement in participatory budgeting, which said that citizen involvement in budgetary decisions formed the foundation of a participatory democracy.

“As a vital part of a wider strategic approach to advancing community participation and empowerment, participatory budgeting 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,” the group’s Fiona Garven said.

Scottish mnisters will also today unveil details of a new flood protection programme for Scotland, in the wake of the widespread damage sustained from floods over the festive period. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a £12m package of emergency funding at the weekend, saying that it would provide a grant of £1,500 for every household, business or charity that had been affected by flooding. Businesses can also apply for up to £3,000 in respect of lost trade.

  • Keith Aitken
    Keith Aitken

    covers Scottish affairs for Public Finance from Edinburgh. He was formerly economics editor and chief leader writer on The Scotsman and now has a busy freelance career as a writer, broadcaster and event chair.

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