Participatory budgeting in Scotland and its effect on public service reform and community empowerment is the subject of a chapter in a new open access e-book.

Hope for democracy: 30 years of participatory budgeting worldwide is the largest collection of articles about participatory budgeting (PB) across the globe.

What Works Scotland’s Dr Oliver Escobar collaborated with members of the PB Working Group to write the chapter relating to PB in Scotland. The PB Working Group works with civil society and the Scottish Government to inform and advance participatory budgeting in Scotland.

In the chapter, the authors highlight how PB has become central to policies that aim to advance public service reform and community empowerment. The interplay between civil society and government is central to opening opportunities for such a democratic innovation.

They conclude that while the mainstreaming of PB (which is now underway) creates space for more complex participatory processes, for PB to make a substantial difference to citizens and communities, democratic innovators need to overcome key challenges such as culture, capacity, politics, legitimacy and sustainability.

BMC Public Health paper

Participatory budgeting and its impact on health and wellbeing is the subject of another paper by Dr Escobar, Candida Fenton and Peter Craig, published by BMC Public Health this month.

The scoping review of evaluations revealed that PB’s impact on citizens’ health and wellbeing is not well researched, and the authors recommend that Governments developing PB processes embed rigorous evaluation of health and wellbeing to substantiate the claim that PB empowers communities and improves lives.

The study was funded by What Works Scotland and the Scottish Government.