Abstracts: October 5th, 2011

Participatory Budgeting complements devolution from localism, community budgets and the Big Society. These are all new developments since it came on the scene in 2006. This report describes how it has evolved in a rapidly changing local government landscape.

Participatory Budgeting directly involves local people in making decisions on the spending priorities for a defined public budget. This means engaging residents and community groups representative of all parts of the community to discuss
spending priorities, making spending proposals and vote on them, as well as giving local people a role in the scrutiny and monitoring of the process.

The report shows Participatory Budgeting was most effective when used in conjunction with other community engagement processes. It works best as part of a package of community engagement and empowerment. The report also reveals that it attracts additional funds into deprived areas by providing an effective means of distributing resources that funders felt confident they could work with.

Participatory Budgeting can also lead to different types of projects getting funding than might otherwise have been the case, and it can improve the level and quality of information available to service providers.

In order to apply Participatory Budgeting in new circumstances, policy-makers
and practitioners need to consider a different approach to its development and take into account the new national and local policy contexts. As Community Budgeting is rolled out across England, Participatory Budgeting processes could be used to inform the use of pooled budgets across a range of services in an area.

The report is available from Communities and Local Government