National Participatory Budgeting Strategic Group minutes: January 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 20 January 2022.

Attendees and apologies


  • Martin Johnstone – Chair
  • Bethany Sharp – Transport Scotland
  • David Allan – Scottish Community Development Centre
  • David Kidd – Homeless Network Scotland
  • David Reilly – Poverty Alliance
  • Dr. Oliver Escobar – University of Edinburgh
  • Fiona Garven – Scottish Community Development Centre 
  • Jane O’ Donnell – Scottish Government
  • Katey Tabner - COSLA
  • Kathleen Glazik – Scottish Government 
  • Kevin Ditcham – Police Scotland
  • Kirsten Urquhart – Young Scot
  • Neil Ritch – National Lottery, Scotland
  • Peter McNaughton – Association of Directors of Education Scotland
  • Robert Emmot - Dundee City Council/Local Government Directors of Finance group
  • Ruth Hart (For Tressa Burke) – Glasgow Disability Alliance 
  • Stuart Matheson – Scottish Government
  • Tricia Ma – Scottish Government (Secretariat)


  • Angus Hardie – Scottish Community Alliance
  • Anil Gupta - COSLA
  • Ellie Craig – member of Youth Scottish Parliament
  • Jillian Matthews – Audit Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions 

The Chair welcomed members and apologies were noted. The Chair provided a brief overview of the previous meeting where good progress had been made to establish the four themed sub-groups with conveners. The Chair referred to the helpful spreadsheet of the Framework’s five themes broken down by priority and indicator of progress shared before Christmas. This included a list of potential actions that emerged as part of the group's Framework deliberations in 2021 to help inform thinking.

The Chair invited each member to reflect and share how they have seen PB in practice since the last meeting. PB was reflected across events in Scotland, such as the COP26 Just Transition seminar and Citizens Assembly. PB has also been featured in discussions related to education and climate justice, such as UNCRC, homelessness prevention and the Dundee city council’s Climate Change Fund, respectively.

Minute of last meeting

The minute of the meeting held on 28th October 2021 was agreed. 

National updates

COSLA:  Katey Tabner provided a national overview and update on COSLA’s PB work with councils. Councils returned proforma updates to COSLA in August 2021. There is shared consensus that there is a strong ongoing commitment to meet the 1% target, but impacts of COVID-19 and the local government budget settlement has made it difficult to achieve by 2021. However, there is evidence of enhanced participatory processes in budget work, though not necessarily specifically PB. Councils are working more strategically across directorates. It is welcomed that 23 councils are using the CONSUL digital platform to date and that a CONSUL development post will help support this. Work continues with the Digital Office of Scotland and the University of Warwick to support digital engagement. 

A new Elected Members Briefing Note will be published by the end of January 2022 to increase awareness of key considerations of mainstream PB. The document draws on experience from local authorities on what mainstream PB involves and outlines key considerations for PB which will be developed by COSLA officers into guidance over the next six months. It is anticipated that the briefing will provide a valuable resource for incoming local councillors following the May 2022 local election. Katey also referred to the quarterly meetings held between the Minister and COSLA which keeps PB high on the agenda. The group found the update very helpful and expressed interest in learning more about the data highlighted. 

PB National Support Programme: David Allan provided a general update on SCDC’s national PB support work and feedback from the learning event held in November 2021. 

SCDC continues to support community-led PB processes, particularly supporting  the Ripple Project (Edinburgh), Annexe Communities (Glasgow) and Castlemilk Food Pantry (Glasgow). SCDC are also providing support for local authorities and communities to co-produce mainstream PB. Engagement with councils and LA PB practitioners will help feed into a wider learning event on mainstream PB hosted in late February 2022. 

A total of 60 people attended the national learning event on the PB Framework in November 2021. Positive feedback was provided, where the Framework was useful in supporting the development of PB. A further learning event will be hosted in late February 2022 with a particular focus on the development of mainstream PB processes. Lastly, there will be focused work on supporting Green PB projects, following Francesca Lynch’s secondment. Collaboration with A&DS, KSB and others have been made to explore the establishment of local green PB initiatives.  

The Chair thanked Katey and David. Points were made for the need of a culture shift in PB to become more mainstream which requires better communications; explore how to engage housing; and opportunities for PB as part of Rights of the Child and the National Entitlement Card expansion.

Green PB update (Stuart Matheson) and group discussion 

Stuart Matheson (Scottish Government Just Transition Policy Manager), provided a presentation on Green PB across Scotland. The Just Transition Committee (JTC) took place in March 2021, which provided recommendations to government highlighting the need to empower and invigorate communities and strengthen local economies. SG responded to the JTC, committing to exploring the use of PB as part of supporting community-led climate action. Scotland’s Climate Assembly 2021 also presented recommendations to SG, which similarly recognized the need to empower communities. SG responded to the assembly highlighting they are working closely with SCDC to explore and develop Green PB budgeting initiatives. The Programme for Government 2021/22 has committed to explore the use of PB as part of wider support for community led climate action.

The Chair invited the Group to ask follow-up questions and discuss how Green PB can be put into practice across all of our work. This included:

  • a mapping exercise was recommended to identify PB in practice that incorporates the ‘green agenda’. This would subsequently be used to identify the gaps and room for improvement in delivering Green PB processes. Also an exercise to help connect networks and groups across Scotland that are trying to advance climate action. 
  • facilitators at a local level need to be resourced better. Facilitators play a central role in helping communities to identify how climate plays a part in everyone’s business
  • there was also focus on the potential of making a formal request to Scottish Government on a ‘National Green PB Fund’ to help invigorate the framework and add strength to the Just Transition momentum. This fund could contribute to mobilise multiple communities and networks
  • continue and progress the momentum from COP26. For instance, there is considerable opportunity for young people to deliberate with existing communities to deliver net-zero driven outcomes.  Young Scot has the tools opportunities and networks
  • long term opportunities to align Green PB with the ‘20% Reduction in Car Km Route Map’ (Transport Scotland and COSLA), which is currently out for consultation. A key part of this work will be around behaviour change and embedding sustainable travel behaviours across the country

National PB Event 2022

The Chair opened discussion about the potential for a National PB Conference in 2022.  

The Group discussed how the conference should focus on the Framework’s themes, such as education, health and the environment. By framing the conference around these thematic issues, the benefits of PB can be highlighted as a supplementary tool and community empowerment approach to help address these issues and build the capacity around participative democracy. This will be strategic in attracting agencies and organisations who are not typically involved in the PB field of work to the conference.

The conference will open the opportunity for the Group to address the Framework to attendees, highlighting the progress made to date and identifying the key areas to develop towards meeting the PB agenda in Scotland. It will also help to build the community of practice and offer peer support, particular where some PB community workers operate in isolation. SCDC will explore options for a national conference. 

Next steps

  • SCDC - initiate a planning agenda for the National PB 2022 Conference, and liaise with the Group to incorporate feedback into the design
  • cross-cutting Priorities Subgroup - explore the possibility of a Green PB Fund from the Scottish Government (similar to the Community Choices Fund) as part of their remit
  • green PB lead, SG - consideration of a mapping exercise to explore where Green PB is already in practice in Scotland. This will help to capture lessons learnt and identify gaps, which can be used as a foundation for the future National PB 2022 event
  • all - the Chair encouraged the group to consider what actions need to be taken in response to what they heard from Katey and David

Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held online on Thursday 28th April from 14:00 to 16:00.

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