Review of 1st Generation Participatory Budgeting in Scotland

The Yard, Edinburgh

Year of publication
Chris Hawkins and Katie Moore, Glasgow Centre for Population Health & Oliver Escobar, What Works Scotland

This paper reviews the evidence about participatory budgeting processes in Scotland up to June 2016. It examines the growth and development of the first generation of participatory budgeting in Scotland in order to generate insight to support the strategic and operational leadership and delivery of future participatory budgeting.

Review Highlights

  • At least £1.75 million has been invested across 58 PB processes in Scotland to date.
  • Information about funding sources is available for 30 of the 58 cases. Of the 30, 23 PB processes were funded directly by the Scottish Government (77% of cases where funding source could be determined).
  • Funded PB projects reflect an impressive mix of prioritised demographic groups and thematic issues as well as support for a range of geographically defined facilities, projects and local community representation groups (e.g. community councils).
  • 57% of PB processes have taken place within the South West of Scotland including Glasgow City and surrounding Local Authority Areas.
  • Only 7% of PB processes were located in rural areas (dwellings of less than 3,000 people).
  • Where geographical information was available (30 cases), 90% of PB processes were located within disadvantaged areas (lowest quintile in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation), yet only one fifth of PB processes stated the explicit goal of addressing inequalities.
  • There is little evidence available of PB processes that feature substantial opportunities for public dialogue and deliberation between participants.

The depth to which PB should be implemented across Scotland (i.e. from grant-making to mainstream budgets), and the impacts expected in tackling inequalities and improving public services, must remain central points in policy discussions in order to frame and clarify the scale and ambition of 2nd Generation PB in Scotland.

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