August 17, 2010
Communities get to choose
In the 80s and 90s, participatory budgeting (PB) was adopted widely in Brazil and other South American countries as a means of helping to establish democracy and citizen involvement after decades of military dictatorship, political patronage and corruption. Now widely in use across Europe, PB is designed to bring decision making and control over resources much closer to local people. Scottish Government is running a trial scheme with five local authorities
The new Antisocial Behaviour Framework, Promoting Positive Outcomes, was published in March 2009 (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/03/18112243/0)
with the outcomes of the policy review collated under the headings of prevention, integration engagement and communication.
Within the category of engagement, a commitment was given that,
The Scottish Government and COSLA will establish, by autumn 2009, a participatory budgeting pilot exercise across three CPP areas as part of the community empowerment agenda.
To support the establishment and delivery of these pilots Scottish Government agreed to provide match funding up to a maximum of £100,000.
In addition, as a way of embedding the new framework within local operational activities,
The Scottish Government, COSLA and other review partners will work with a number of local agencies throughout 2009-10 and 2010-11 to pilot specific new approaches and demonstrate the effectiveness of realigning services with the principles of this Framework.
Participatory Budgeting Pilots
Following an extensive application and selection process, 5 pilot sites were chosen:
The objectives of each of the pilots include:
• Bring diverse people together and support community cohesion
• Enhance the ways in which local people, elected members and council officials work together
• Promote empowerment of individuals and communities
• Promote active citizenship to create better public services
• Promote community development and capacity-building within communities
• Support the Scottish Community Empowerment Action Plan that has been developed by the Scottish Government and COSLA
The local authority involved in each pilot have match-funded the Government’s investment, effectively doubling the awards. The local authority areas are Fife, South Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire, Shetland Islands and Stirling.
Fife Community Safety Partnership
The pilot will enable Fife to develop projects in the Glenrothes area, based on the needs and preferences of local people. Participatory budgeting will use both existing methods of community engagement used by the police and council, community profile information and new means of getting people involved in their local area. It could include projects to provide positive activities for young people, address health issues, or improve safety – anything which helps tackle antisocial behaviour.
South Lanarkshire Council
This pilot will enable South Lanarkshire’s to further develop the ‘Positive Communities’ model, engaging with a range of community and tenants’ groups to identify and prioritise local issues and influence the direction of resources.
Shetland Islands Council
This pilot will enable the North Staney Hill Community Association, supported by Shetland Islands Council, to build on its efforts to renew a sense of community within the area and overcome the negative assumptions that are made about it, increase understanding between groups in the community and allow the community to solve its own problems.
Stirling Community Safety Partnership
This pilot will focus on the Dunblane area and will engage young people who are currently involved in aspects of antisocial behaviour as well as those who are on the fringes of such behaviour. It aims to encourage young people to take ownership and responsibility for their behaviour and to build the capacity of young people to positively engage, both with community planning partners and with the wider community they live in.
North Lanarkshire Partnership
The pilot aims to strengthen local community planning structures through offering the residents of one area the opportunity for the first time, to make decisions about the distribution of public funds, at the same time strengthening relationships between residents and agencies operating in the area. North Lanarkshire has already identified how participatory budgeting might be sustained into overall Community Planning processes.
Supporting the pilot sites
Scottish Government has contracted with the (PBU) to provide ongoing support to the pilot initiatives. PBU, a project of Church Action on Poverty, is exclusively concerned with the promotion, development and support of participatory budgeting and is recognised as the main delivery organisation for such initiatives in the UK. The Unit has extensive experience of working with local authorities, housing associations, police authorities, schools and community groups to deliver participatory budgeting projects. Key activities include researching initiatives across the world, developing practical tools and other resources, co-ordinating and networking participatory budgeting activity regionally and nationally, providing advice and guidance to practitioners and giving hands-on support to projects.