Participation handbook

This handbook provides a guide to good practice in participation work across Scottish Government. It provides information about participatory methods and when to use them, the development of an effective participation strategy, and signposts to further resources.

When to delegate

Delegation is the most rarely deployed level of participation by the Scottish Government as Ministers retain ultimate responsibility for any policy implemented by government and any resulting demands on public finances.

It is increasingly being used within local governments, particularly in Participatory Budgeting (PB). In PB, decisions over a specific amount of a council’s budget are devolved to the local community, which makes decisions about allocation. Read more information about Participatory Budgeting in Scotland.

The offer made to participants in a delegated process is that we will implement what you decide.

Activities at this level give the greatest amount of control over the outcome to the participants. There are therefore only limited circumstances where delegation is an appropriate choice of participatory approach for us to take.

Given this level of control, it is important to ensure that a diversity of voices are involved and the full range of stakeholders are represented.

Methods that support delegation

Methods that have been used by governments to delegate decisions to the public include:

  • referenda
  • community votes
  • participatory budgeting
  • mini-public deliberations, for example, Citizens’ Assemblies, where a pre- engagement commitment has been given to deliver on the conclusions or recommendations

Delegation at different stages of the delivery cycle

Visioning: adopting a vision that has been set by others, or sourcing from stakeholders the key issues that should be addressed by the policy intervention.

Development: asking others to generate recommendations or potential solutions, often with input from a variety of sources, which will be appraised.

Appraisal: taking and committing to implement the preferred choice which others have selected from a range of presented options.

Decision-making: giving power to others to make the final decision on committing to a course of action, usually within pre-agreed remits such as with participatory budgeting.

Evaluation: handing over the assessment to an external evaluator, or voluntarily entering a programme of external verification which will involve stakeholders.



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