Scottish Councils have reached the milestone of spending 1% of their budgets through the Participatory Budgeting process, bringing decision making closer to the communities they serve.
The Scottish Government and COSLA recognise the value of participatory budgeting (PB), in strengthening local democracy and enabling communities to take forward their own ambitions. The agreement in 2017 that at least 1% of local authority budgets would be subject to PB was a milestone in Scotland’s PB journey.
Despite delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic, significant progress has been made. Since 2021, more than 110,000 local people have taken part in participatory processes and directly decided on how £154 million worth of council budgets have been spent. This has exceeded the 1% target, with a total spend across all councils reaching 1.4% of available budgets.
Community Wealth and Public Finance Minister Tom Arthur said:
“Participatory budgeting gives communities the power to make real decisions about how money is spent in their area. I am pleased that £154 million worth of council budgets have been directed towards projects and services that matter most to the communities they serve.
“As we continue to respond to challenges from the pandemic and cost of living crisis, I am encouraged to see the growing value that participatory budgeting brings in tackling these wider issues through the lens of equality and local democracy.
“The appetite for further community empowerment is clear, and I look forward to seeing how participatory budgeting grows in the coming years.”
COSLA Vice President, Councillor Steven Heddle, said:
“Delivering on the 1% PB Agreement is a strong example of Local Government’s commitment to ensuring that more decisions are actually made by our communities.
“Councils use a variety of ways to involve and empower local communities and strengthen local democracy, and it is great to see an increase in the number of people taking part in the participatory budget processes.
“It is also good to see other parts of the public sector now starting to directly involve local communities in deciding how money is spent.
“I look forward to continuing to work together with Scottish Government to build on this progress as we look to extend and embed the use of PB in local decision making.“