National Participatory Budgeting Strategic Group minutes: March 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 2 March 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Angus Hardie, Scottish Community Alliance
  • Amy Watson, Scottish Government
  • David Allan, Scottish Community Development Centre
  • David Reilly, Poverty Alliance
  • Doreen Grove, Scottish Government
  • Gavin Crosby, Young Scot 
  • John Munro, COSLA
  • Kathleen Glazik, Scottish Government
  • Martin Johnstone, Chair
  • Neil Ritch, National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland
  • Neisha Kirk, Scottish Government
  • Oliver Escobar, University of Edinburgh
  • Peter McNaughton, Education Scotland
  • Robert Emmott, Dundee City Council/Local Government Directors of Finance group
  • Tricia Ma, Scottish Government


  • Anil Gupta, COSLA
  • Michael Wood, Education Scotland 
  • Kevin Ditcham, Police Scotland
  • Kirsten Urquhart , Young Scot
  • Tressa Burke, Glasgow Disability Alliance
  • Jane O’ Donnell, Scottish Government
  • Susan Paxton, Scottish Community Development Centre
  • Ellie Craig, Member of Youth Scottish Parliament

Items and actions

Welcome and overview

The Chair welcomed members and explained the purpose of the meeting, which focused on two specific actions that came about from the last meeting in December 2022. For the first half of the session, the aim was to plan the initial work of the Short Life Task Groups, and following this, there was an opportunity to discuss the expanding remit of the strategic group to the wider participatory democracy agenda.

Minutes of last meeting

Minutes of the meeting held on 1st December 2022 was agreed by the Group.

Just Transition PB fund update

Tricia from SG and David A. from SCDC were invited to provide a brief update on the Just Transition Participatory Budgeting (JT PB) Fund 2022 - 2023, targeted in the North East & Moray. Tricia described the fund’s success, of which 127 project proposals came forward from communities to a sum of £3.1 million. Over 10,000 people got involved in online and face-to-face voting, and led to a total of 45 successful projects currently being delivered. Despite the tight timescales to deliver, the North East partners (with support from PB Scotland) have worked hard to co-design and deliver the initiative at high quality, engage their communities with the just transition agenda, and will continue to learn and improve for future years.

A brief Q&A session followed from the members, raising questions around: involving young people more in the process; commitment to support PB in the fund’s future years; what the subsequent process was for unsuccessful applicants; and future networking opportunities for partners. Members were interested and will be kept informed as the fund progresses through the years.

Short Life Task groups

From the last meeting in December 2022, it was recognised that working across the framework’s broad themes had not, with the exception on Green PB, proven effective in enabling members to be involved in the strategic group’s work in between meetings. Martin explained how the group is now working towards a Short Life Task Group model, in which members are encouraged to set out specific actions within a priority theme going forward. These groups are not long-term or open-ended pieces of work. Rather they should be a maximum of three meetings with a clear focus on what part, if any, the Strategic Group can play in driving these issues forward.

Members were split into breakout rooms with their respective short life task groups (of their choice), and were asked to address three key questions:

  • What is the current situation and where are the gaps?
  • What actions can the short life task group take forward to address these gaps and what key outputs would you like to see by the end of the group’s work?
  • How are you going to take this work forward, and if what, if any, resource would you need to support this work?

Improving an understanding of PB: Rather than PB understood as a discrete area of activity, this group discussed how we should shift towards an awareness that PB can help to address issues of democracy, community empowerment, tackle inequality and more. The group will look to explore people’s understanding of PB in more depth and identify how it can be framed in a broader context of the Local Government Review, Community Wealth Building and the Open Government Programme.

PB in education/schools: This group discussed how there needs to be a greater understanding of PB among young people and staff and that there is scope for PB to be made part of a curriculum, and not just an add-on. It was suggested that PB champions can be recruited, which may help to communicate the value of PB across the sector better.

PB in cross cutting issue of climate justice: Ongoing updates and communication with the Green PB community of practice was discussed, and they identified that climate justice needs to be linked more strongly with participatory democracy approaches. A mapping exercise of current and future policy developments was encouraged to help establish PB links to areas, such as the Just Transition fund, LGR and Open Government work.

Due to absences, the ‘Coordinating evidence of the long term impact’ group was unable to meet. This group have agreed to liaise and discuss offline. Following the feedback discussion, Martin commissioned volunteers from each group to complete a more detailed pro forma template and to share it with the Secretariat team, to identify the ‘what’ and ‘how’ the groups will take forward strategic support for these PB priorities.  

Feedback on meeting with the Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth

Following the Chair’s meeting with the Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth on 23rd February 2023, Martin provided some reflections. The Minister expressed enthusiasm towards the PB activity happening across Scotland and has positively identified the degree at which PB is now tapping into new areas it has not historically been before. Mr Arthur also expressed an interest in making links between PB and community wealth building and encourages the network to explore this further to strengthen this agenda. The Minister was also encouraged by the work of the strategic group and has welcomed more regular catch ups with the Chair to understand the next phase of work.

Expanding the remit to wider participatory democracy

The Scottish Government’s Open Government team was invited to introduce themselves and provide a brief presentation on their recent work within the participatory democracy agenda. Doreen discussed how the group could take democratic innovations forward and identify how different participatory mechanisms can work to complement each other.

Amy Watson provided an overview of the Participatory Framework, published in February 2023. This framework provides a guide to good practice in participation work across Scottish Government, and provides information about participatory methods and when to use them, the development of an effective participation strategy, and signposts to further resources.

Volunteers from the group were identified to help further explore ways in which the group can get involved in the wider PD agenda. These included: David Allan, Susan Paxton, Oliver Escobar, Robert Emmott and John Munro. It was understood that this piece of work would be a gradual development.

Next steps

  • Volunteer members to have first meeting with SG Open Government Team to the group’s involvement with the wider participatory democracy work.
  • One volunteer from each Short Life Task Group to return their respective pro forma templates to Tricia (Secretariat team) by 10th March 2023.
  • Short Life Task Groups to complete any actions that come from their discussions and report back in June 2023 meeting.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting will be held in-person at 14:00 till 16:00 on 1st June 2023. Venue to be confirmed.


National Participatory Budgeting Strategic Group

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