In 2017 Scottish Local Authorities and the Scottish Government worked together to develop and agree a framework whereby at least 1% of local government budgets will be subject to Participatory Budgeting (PB) by the end of 2021.
The framework defines Community Choices as the term used in Scotland for Participatory Budgeting and sets PB as the enabler for active participation of citizens in local decision making. It establishes a shared expectation that elected members, senior officers, civil society and local communities will use PB to go beyond the current arrangements for consultation and engagement.
In late 2020 Cllr Parry, COSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson and Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government issued a joint letter to local authorities outlining the ongoing commitment to PB whilst recognising the need for flexibility owing to the impacts of the pandemic upon local services.
In January 2021 COSLA Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to mainstream PB and welcomed the flexible timeline for delivery, given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country. The 2021 revised Framework Agreement sets forward the joint ambition for mainstream PB to be an essential part of recovery and renewal from the pandemic.
During the pandemic Local Government worked in partnership with people and communities to deliver emergency support. This demonstrated the value of people engaging in local service delivery and the trust which develops as a result. Continuation of this partnership approach between Local Government, service delivery partners and communities must be at the forefront of mainstream PB during the recovery and renewal process.
Reporting on progress towards 1% (2020/21)
Data provided by Scottish Councils for the 2020/21 financial year shows that £78,302,012 of local government money was allocated through participatory processes with local communities.
Of this total £28,211,470 was allocated for capital projects and £50,090,542 was allocated for revenue spend.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted participatory budgeting activity across Scottish councils, with at least one third of councils cancelling planned PB activity due to resource and staffing redeployment.
At least 43,800 people participated in local budget discussions however we anticipate this number to be significantly higher owing to lower levels of reporting for this indicator.