National Participatory Budgeting Strategic Group minutes: September 2023

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

Attendees and apologies

  • Martin Johnstone, Chair
  • David Allan, Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC)
  • Gavin Crosby, Young Scot 
  • John Munro, COSLA
  • Kathleen Glazik, Scottish Government
  • Kevin Ditcham, Police Scotland
  • Michael Wood, Education Scotland
  • Amy Watson, Scottish Government (online)
  • Guliana Raffaela Longworth (Observer)


  • Angus Hardie, Scottish Community Alliance
  • Anil Gupta, COSLA
  • David Reilly, Poverty Alliance
  • Doreen Grove, Scottish Government
  • Neil Ritch, National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland
  • Oliver Escobar, University of Edinburgh
  • Robert Emmott, Dundee City Council/Local Government Directors of Finance group
  • Susan Paxton, Scottish Community Development Centre
  • Tressa Burke, Glasgow Disability Alliance
  • Ellie Craig, Member of Scottish Youth Parliament

Items and actions

Welcome and overview

The Chair welcomed members and apologies were noted. 

The Chair reported that Peter McNaughton, Education Scotland had retired and welcomed Michael Wood, Education Scotland to the group. The Chair welcomed Guliana Raffaela Longworth to the meeting as an observer. Guliana is on a PHD Student Placement with the Health CASCADE Network and Glasgow Caledonian University and she’ll be focusing on supporting SCDC’s policy work on community involvement and participation.

Minute of last meeting

The minute of the meeting held on 1 June 2023 was agreed by the group.

Meeting with Minister feedback

The Chair provided feedback on his meeting with Tom Arthur, Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance on 20 June 2023 on behalf of the strategic group. The Minister is supportive of the proposal to expand the group’s remit to participatory democracy but emphasised that the work of PB must not be diluted, but rather situated well with other wider tools and policy interventions. For example, Democracy Matters and Community Wealth Building as strengthening the muscle of participation in communities is an important step to strengthening democracy and the economy, and how meaningfully involved people feel.

Community wealth building (CWB)

The Chair welcomed Tracy Jackson, Community Wealth Building Policy Manager and Louise Tannasee, Senior Policy Officer who provided a presentation of Community Wealth Building and updated members on developments. The presentation is shared separately.

The Scottish Government adopted the internationally recognised Community Wealth Building (CWB) approach to economic development as a key practical means by which Scotland could achieve a wellbeing economy. Developed initially in the United States, CWB aims to ensure the economic system builds wealth and prosperity for everyone and is designed to harness the economic leverage of local ‘anchor’ organisations to tackle long standing systematic challenges and structural inequalities within communities.

CWB acts as a framework for activity across five interlinked pillars which are Spending, Workforce, Land and property, Inclusive ownership and finance. There has been significant progress in implementing CWB in Scotland over the past few years led by local authorities, often in partnership with their community planning partners. There are five CWB pilot areas and these are Clackmannanshire, Fife, Glasgow City Region, South of Scotland, Western Isles. SG has also committed £3 million to advance CWB in Ayrshire through the Ayrshire Growth Deal.

The Programme for Government 2021-22 set out a commitment to bring forward Community Wealth Building legislation. A CWB Bill Steering Group has been established to support this work, chaired by Tom Arthur MSP, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth. Finding from the consultation held between January and May 2023 will be available short.

A brief Q and A session followed and members were interested in the Spending Pillar as could be nearest link to PB. Challenges were highlighted such as the muscle of big companies versus independent shops in a local town and employment for young people. Also that some legislation can give more power to the already empowered and the need to ensure there is equal opportunity for everyone is key. Tracy stressed that the CWB could grow the small businesses as legislation will look at legal blockers to enable those on the ground.

Short life task groups update

Kathleen provided a summary of the improving a shared understanding of PB Priority Task Group’s paper included at annex A which was shared with members prior to the meeting. Based on what was heard the task group suggests the national group consider four actions:

  • recommending the development of a number of case studies and/or a video and actively promote these
  • exploring how members could raise awareness of PB amongst Ministers in particular in Education and for Young People
  • exploring opportunities to promote PB in national strategies, guidance and standards, as learning shows that including PB in the Pupil Equity Fund Guidance for Head Teachers has made a difference at a strategic level
  • how PB could be better promoted in the health and social care sector

David Allan provided an update for the Climate Justice Priority Task Group. Although the group has not met in the past three months, there are some actions being taken forward through PB Scotland. 

  • the Green PB Action Group is continuing and is currently exploring how best to report to the National PB Strategic Group
  • learning from the Just Transitions PB programme in the north east of Scotland clearly shows the value of targeted development support. This ensures that those communities who face greatest challenges and have the lowest capacity are able to access and participate fully in local PB processes. Will continue to build on this learning and add to it from our other experiences of supporting equitable participation in PB
  • regarding funding/resourcing for PB (and wider PD approaches) on climate justice, through PB Scotland beginning to explore this in relation to wider resourcing for PB. There is early engagement with key stakeholders with a view to developing a briefing on funding for PB, and a learning event in the early part of 2024

Michael spoke on behalf of the Coordinating evidence of the long-term impact of PB. He highlighted the importance of evidencing impact and although case study information is welcomed that research on impact goes beyond the case studies. Measuring PB impact can be complex and the Glasgow Caledonian University evaluation was important and helpful but focused on a period of time when PB was relatively new. Meaningful evidence needs to be adequately resourced.

An action from the last meeting was for SG to explore administrative support for the Education Task Group in particular to consider championing the PEF PB in South Lanarkshire Funding has been provided to SCDC to provide administrative resource to help progress their work

The Chair thanked members for the update and for all their work. Members welcomed the Improving a shared understanding of PB Priority task group report and agreed that the actions could be considered as part of on-going PB work. SG funded support for the PB in education task group was also welcomed. 

Expanding remit to wider participatory democracy paper

Actions from the last meeting included CE policy arranging a meeting with a smaller group to discuss the proposed remit and that OGP policy would draw up a draft remit for a new group and proposed membership.

The Chair welcomed Amy Watson, who provided an overview of the draft remit for the proposed new National Strategic Group for Innovating Participation for the group’s consideration and agreement. The remit which would replace the National PB Strategic Group is included at annex B and was drafted following a meeting of the sub group on 8 August 2023. Sub group notes included at annex C.

Following discussions it was agreed that the current PB Strategic Group would be a good fit to have strategic oversight of wider democratic innovations with careful framing of the scope of the remit and membership being crucial to success. It was highlighted that the expanded remit would seek to maintain the importance and a high level focus on PB and using the lessons from PB and applying them to other democratic innovations. 

Governance arrangements for the new National Strategic Group for Innovating Participation could include reporting to the Open Government Steering Group, Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament but this will need to be explored further. The Chair proposed a two stage approach similar to the development of the PB Strategic Framework and the Scottish Government will explore a Workshop is a next step. Members were also invited to send names for the new group to Amy. 

Members were also informed that Tom Arthur, Minister for Community Wealth Building and Public Finances and Geroge Adam, Minister for Parliamentary Business are meeting on 27 September 2023 to consider their overlapping portfolio interests and an update will be provided at the next meeting.

Any other business

The Chair informed members that the second phase of Democracy Matters engagement process was launched on 28 August 2023 and is asking communities to consider what increased decision-making at a more local level should look like where they live. A grant fund up to £300 to community groups is available to local conversations. The Chair encouraged members to promote this.

Next steps and action

  • members to propose names for membership of the new National Strategic Group for Innovating Participation
  • SG to explore workshop options for the new National Strategic Group for Innovating Participation
  • SG to provide feedback from ministerial meeting to consider their overlapping portfolio interests
  • members to promote the Democracy Matters engagement process

Dates of next meeting

The next meetings will be held from 14:00 to 16:00 on:

  • Thursday 7 December 2023 in St. Andrew’s House, Edinburgh
  • Thursday 7 March 2024 in St. Andrew’s House, Edinburgh
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