Participatory budgeting

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process in which citizens decide directly how to spend part of a public budget. We support PB as a tool for community empowerment and as a resource to build on the wider development of participatory democracy in Scotland. 

PB can:

  • help deliver on outcomes in Scotland’s National Performance Framework that 'we live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe' and 'we tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally'
  • complement aspirations in the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 to give communities more powers to achieve their own ambitions
  • help deliver the Public Sector Equality Duty by advancing equality of opportunity and fostering good relations between different groups
  • support the principle of Public Service Reform that says people should have equal opportunity to participate in decisions shaping their local community and society

PB Scotland website provides more information about events, policy and resources in Scotland, and profiles examples, pictures and videos of participatory budgeting in action.

National support programme: Community Choices Fund

Since 2014, we supported and promoted PB nationally through our Community Choices Fund. The fund was delivered in partnership with local authorities, communities and third sector organisations, and implemented across policy areas from policing to health and social care, transport and education.  

See the Community Choices Fund report for 2017 to 2018

In 2018 to 2019, funding of £750,000 was made available for applications from community organisations. 

From 2019 the Community Choice Fund was included as part of the £11.5 million Investing in Communities Fund which is part of the Empowering Communities Programme. 

Agreement with local government

In 2017 Scottish Local Authorities and the Scottish Government worked together to develop and agree a framework whereby at least 1% of local government budgets will be subject to PB by the end of 2021.  It establishes a shared expectation that elected members, senior officers, civil society and local communities will use PB to go beyond the current arrangements for consultation and engagement.

In January 2021 COSLA Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to mainstream PB and welcomed the flexible timeline for delivery, given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country. The 2021 revised Framework Agreement sets forward the joint ambition for mainstream PB to be an essential part of recovery and renewal from the pandemic.

National Participatory Budgeting Strategic group

The National Participatory Budgeting Strategic Group was established in September 2020 with an initial focus on establishing an overall framework for PB over the lifetime of the following Scottish Parliament.  Having deliberated on shared ambition, intentions and priority areas for development where there is energy and enthusiasm for the differences PB can make the group produced a Framework for the Future of PB in Scotland in July 2021.

Read the framework for the future of PB in Scotland.