This paper outlines participatory budgeting design choices and delivery principles. It reviews international research, evaluations, grey literature and commentary and draws upon learning and insights from a PB pilot in Govanhill, Glasgow. 


This paper aims to support the strategic and operational delivery of participatory budgeting (PB) within Scotland and beyond.

There have been various attempts at generating typologies to inform PB. Here we take a different approach. Instead of proposing a discrete set of models, which may be limiting and prescriptive given the diversity of community contexts, we instead outline PB design choices and delivery principles.

PB delivery organisations, communities and citizens involved in the PB process can thus use the design choices and principles selectively, flexibly and reflectively as meets their specific purpose, need and context.

The central methodology used in this paper is a literature review. International research, evaluations, grey literature and commentary concerning PB have been reviewed. This paper specifically draws upon learning and insights from a PB pilot in Govanhill, Glasgow.

The PB design choices draw upon international evidence and raise fundamental questions to prompt strategic discussion at the outset as to the ambition, scale and process involved in the planned PB programme, which in turn makes clearer the leadership, time and resource requirements.

The principles for effective PB delivery then give practitioners and sponsors a steer as to the types of approaches (and issues to be careful of) which are likely to enhance the delivery prospects of PB ‘on the ground’. Importantly these delivery principles pay close attention to the current position and profile of PB in Scotland and to the resource most likely to be available for PB at the time of writing.

Ten strategic choices in the design of PB processes have been developed alongside ten principles for effective delivery of PB within a Scottish context.

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Authors: Chris Harkins, Glasgow Centre for Population Health, and Oliver Escobar

Publication date: December 2015

Type of publication: Literature review