New funding to give communities more say on council spending

Written by Jenni Davidson on 12 January 2016 in News

Funding has been awarded to thirteen councils to help run participatory budgeting events.

Communities are to be given a vote on how council money is spent, thanks to a funding boost of almost half a million pounds.

Thirteen Scottish local authorities will receive a share of £494,267 from the participatory budgeting fund, Local Government Minister Marco Biagi has announced.

The investment will help fund over 50 participatory budgeting projects across Scotland, giving people the chance to decide where investment should be directed in their local community.

It will match existing council commitments, provide support for participatory budgeting events and support communities to engage with the process.

Marco Biagi said: “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.”

Participatory budgeting is a way for local people to have a direct say in how and where public funds are used to address local requirements.

It normally involves members of the community deciding through a voting process how to spend part of the budget of a public agency such as a local authority.

Twenty local authorities have so far engaged in participatory budgeting activity supported by the Scottish Government.

Among these are the Western Isles, which earmarked over half a million pounds to design the delivery of a non-statutory bus service alongside communities, and Aberdeenshire, which used £200,000 to help communities get involved in shaping health and social care delivery.

Fiona Garven, a member of the PB Scotland Scottish working group, said: “Good participatory budgeting offers opportunities for people across a diverse range of groups to engage in discussions about what matters to them, their families and their communities.

“As a vital part of a wider strategic approach to advancing community participation and empowerment, PB 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 thirteen councils to get a share of the funding are Aberdeenshire, Angus, East Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Highlands, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, Perth and Kinross, Shetland Islands, South Ayrshire, West Lothian.

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