National Participatory Budgeting Strategic Group minutes: December 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 7 December 2023.

Attendees and apologies

  • Martin Johnstone, Chair
  • David Allan, Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) (online)
  • Susan Paxton, SCDC (online)
  • Sarah Boath, SCDC (online)
  • Gavin Crosby, Young Scot (online)
  • John Munro, COSLA
  • Angus Hardie, Scottish Community Alliance
  • Robert Emmott, Dundee City Council/Local Government Directors of Finance group (online)
  • David Reilly, Poverty Alliance
  • Doreen Grove, Scottish Government
  • Amy Watson, Scottish Government (online)
  • Joe Dickson, Scottish Government


  • Anil Gupta, COSLA
  • Neil Ritch, National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland
  • Oliver Escobar, University of Edinburgh
  • Tressa Burke, Glasgow Disability Alliance
  • Ellie Craig, Member of Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Kathleen Glazik, Scottish Government
  • Michael Wood, Education Scotland
  • Kevin Ditcham, Police Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and overview

The chair welcomed members and introductions were made for new attendees. Apologies were noted for those unable to attend.

Minutes of last meeting

The minute of the meeting held on 7 September 2023 was agreed by the group.

The Chair noted the action points from the previous meeting and asked members what actions they had taken to promote the Democracy Matters conversation. Actions included promoting Democracy Matters through webinars and workshop events. An observation was that this second round is similar to the initial consultation held four years ago which may have resulted in consultation ‘burnout’ with people covering the same issues. Also noted was that the conversation offered a blank page and that it may have been better to offer something more concrete. Members noted they would continue to promote this in the new year.

Susan Paxton agreed to provide more detail on feedback from those responding to the Democracy Matters consultation for the next meeting (Action Point).

Democratic innovation

The Chair noted his recent involvement with the Poverty Truth Network and Carnegie UK and the work they have been doing on developing a matrix to measure the impact of a wellbeing economy through a social, economic, environmental and democratic matrix and opened the next discussion point by asking members what some of the democratic innovations in the work they have been involved in.

A discussion followed with members highlighting some recent successes, such as 20,000 young people voted for elected representatives in the Scottish Youth Parliament; citizen panels have facilitated discussions with learning and deliberation opportunities with those in poverty; looking at co-production and how this works in practice rather than just in theory; the rural parliament successfully ran its fifth event and local authorities have been doing a lot of work to get policy and strategy frameworks into place to embed PB in the budget process.

Finances were highlighted as potential reason for stifled innovation. Members discussed this, and highlighted the importance of innovating. The renewable sector and community ownership was noted as an innovative way some rural communities were able to purchase wind turbines and the revenue gained from this, they have been able to redistributed locally.

Short life task groups update

Improving a shared understanding of PB

No further updates

Co-ordinating evidence of long term impact of PB

No update on the work however it was noted that the last research into the long term impact of PB carried out previously by Glasgow Caledonian University. It was highlighted that the group does not have the resource to carry out any further research and cannot move forward at this point.

Climate justice

No further updates

PB in education

Highlighted the subgroup are thinking about auditing youth PB, in order to gain a greater understanding of what kind of projects young people are interested in and voting for. Parental interactions and looking at moving PB work into primary schools through developing resources to support ages 5-25 build an interest and get involved in the PB process.

National Strategic Group for Innovating Participation (NSGIP)

Doreen provided an update on the recent Ministerial meeting between Mr Arthur, Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance, and Mr Adam, Minister for Parliamentary Business on 28 September 2023. The key thing to note was that both Ministers recognised the value of incorporating the PB Group into an NSGIP and that they would need to work closely together on this. Neither had any concerns other than the scale of what may be asked of the new group. Doreen noted that due to the scale of what has been asked, the NSGIP would need to provide a broader overview rather than in-depth look.

Expanding remit – workshop planning

The next discussion was focused on planning for a workshop in the new year to develop a remit and strategy for the new group. The Chair opened the discussion with members asking for suggestions of names for who to participate in a workshop and what the key components for the event to succeed would be. Annex A provides a breakdown of different names provided.  

The Chair noted it was vital that we do not lose a focus on PB when developing the next stage of work. It was agreed with members that the workshop should have no more than 20 attendees. SG will circulate the proposed attendees names from the meeting (Action Point).

It was agreed that the Chair, Doreen, Angus and a colleague from SCDC will take forward the planning of the practicalities of the day and develop a remit (Action Point).

It was noted that the workshop would be by the end of February, with the new group set up in the new financial year. Colleagues were asking to look at possible venues (Action point).

Annual report planning

A copy of last year’s annual report was circulated with the papers prior to the meeting. The Chair opened the discussion by asking attendees their views on the key messages to include in this. Some of the issues highlighted by members were the resource issues; the expanding purpose of the group; and the links to the national framework to support outcomes of tacking poverty and redistributing wealth.

Any other business

The Chair noted the next meeting is on the 7 March and commented this may be the last meeting of the group. With consensus of members it was agreed that this would be a good opportunity to use this meeting to bring together people who have brought about innovation in PB over the last few years to mark the good work of the group and previous members.

Next steps and actions

  • Susan Paxton to provide more detail on feedback from those responding to the Democracy Matters consultation for the next meeting
  • SG to circulate proposed attendees names for the workshop
  • Chair, Doreen, Angus and a colleague from SCDC to meet to discuss planning the practicalities for the workshop and a remit for the day
  • colleagues asked to look at potential venues for the workshop
  • SG to liaise with the Chair to discuss timings and date for the final meeting of the group
Back to top