Abstracts: October 22nd, 2008

This report from Communities and Local Government sets out responses to the consultation document issued earlier in the year and indicates the general approach that will be taken to give more people a say in local spending. The Government’s ambition is for participatory budgeting to be used in all local authority areas by 2012.

Many respondents felt that “participatory budgeting” sounds too technical and called for a more user-friendly label. Alternatives suggested include “community kitties” and “participatory spending”. There was also support for local labels such as: Newcastle: U-Decide, Southampton: Your Health, Your Community, Your Vote.

In a move to widen participatory budgeting, it will be given more scope in local strategic partnerships to gain benefits with greater joined-up working and increasing local efficiencies. There will also be a need to raise public understanding of health spending issues, where Local Involvement Networks can help.

The risk of borough wide of participatory budgeting within the LAA being too remote to neighbourhoods was recognized. To counter this there will be better promotion within parish and town council structures. Larger councils will be required to take account of parish plans in budgeting.

Respondents to the consultation also called for greater resources to cover the start up costs for local authorities initiating participatory budgeting. More resources need to be dedicated to capacity building, training and engagement of councillors and officials. In particular councillors’ skills on engagement and promoting participatory budgeting need to be honed.

There were also calls for more third sector networking including within regional learning sets.

The paper is available from DCLG. http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/966585.pdf