Evaluation of participatory budgeting activity in Scotland 2016-2018

The Gathering 2018

Year of publication
Scottish Government

This report is the final output of an evaluation of Participatory Budgeting activity in Scotland commissioned by the Scottish Government in 2015 and which was based upon fieldwork conducted throughout 2016 until September 2018. The specific areas of focus for the evaluation, as determined by the Scottish Government, were the identifiable impacts on local communities, local services, local democracy, and tackling inequalities. The report includes wide-ranging quotes from respondents.

A '3 Ts' model provided a framework for the evaluation, focussing on: Transaction (basically an extension of the funder/beneficiary relationship) , Transference (closer involvement of community members in the governance of the process), Transformation (shift in power dynamics, and increased emphasis on locally determined priorities).

The report is extensive and has complex findings, including enthusiasm from communities and political commitment for a dynamic form of PB across Scotland, reacting to local contexts and environments. PB has been tested and developed in different ways in Scotland’s local authorities, which has become both a strength and challenge.
As well as evaluating previous practice, positive suggestions for more inclusive, deliberative, engaged and empowered future are made, including:

  • earlier and more proactive activity to engage communities,
  • resourcing community and institutional capacity building: what was universally agreed throughout the evaluation process was the need for greater levels of community capacity building across processes and organisations - local authorities and community organisations, not simply for those who are vulnerable or marginalised.
  • work towards cultural change at all levels of local government to enable a shift in power and decision making.
  • Use of the Public Sector Equality Duty to drive greater inclusion of equality groups
  • Use of the National Standards for Community Engagement as a practical framework to support local authorities, third and public sector partners to engage local people across diverse needs and experiences
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