Our work on participatory budgeting (PB) explores how PB supports public service reform and participation in democracy and decision-making.

“Participatory budgeting has the potential to empower and energise communities and to transform and strengthen the relationship between citizens, civil society organisations and all levels of government and public service.”

Review of First Generation Participatory Budgeting in Scotland

Participatory budgeting is a different way to manage public money. Community members decide how part of a public budget will be spent, enabling citizens to work with decision-makers on budget decisions about the services.

It also has the capacity to support active citizenship, helping build stronger communities involved in solving local problems.

The profile and spread of participatory budgeting (PB) has accelerated in Scotland over the past decade; from little more than a handful of known PB processes in 2010 to at least 200 processes having taken place by 2018.  There has also been increasing political, legislative and policy support for PB.

This report examined the growth and development of the first generation of participatory budgeting in Scotland (to June 2016) in order to generate insight to support the strategic and operational leadership and delivery of future participatory budgeting.

An earlier report reviewed international research, evaluations, grey literature and commentary and draws upon learning and insights from a PB pilot in Govanhill, Glasgow. It outlined ten strategic choices in the design of participatory budgeting processes and ten principles for effective delivery of PB within a Scottish context.

This policy briefing reviews how participatory budgeting (PB) has become central to advancing three policy agendas in Scotland – public service reform, community empowerment and social justice – and examines the requirements to mainstream PB including the co-production of new systems, new mindsets and ways of working.

The Scottish Government PB working group considers issues such as alternative PB models and a Scottish approach to PB.

The open access ebook Hope for democracy: 30 years of participatory budgeting worldwide is the largest collection of articles about participatory budgeting (PB) on a global scale.

One chapter outlines key lessons from the Scottish experience so far. Participatory budgeting in Scotland: The interplay of public service reform, community empowerment and social justice was co-written by members of the PB Working Group, which works with civil society and the Scottish Government to inform and advance the development of PB.

You can hear more about this in the recording of a webinar on Participatory budgeting and its potential for community empowerment and social justice. The presentation focused on what needs to happen to ensure that the mainstreaming of PB carves out space for more complex participatory and deliberative processes in local government decision-making.

Evaluating participatory budgeting

Glasgow’s participatory budgeting evaluation group developed an evaluation approach to assess the impact of participatory budgeting activities, and created a participatory budgeting evaluation toolkit. It can be used to support any individual or group organising PB activities, allowing them to plan how they will evaluate their process and collate the necessary information and evidence.

This report reviews evaluations of participatory budgeting, finding that evaluations applying robust methods to analyse health and wellbeing outcomes are scarce.

Related resources

All What Works Scotland’s resources, publications and blogs related to participatory budgeting