PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING – as well as being a mouthful to say, so is shortened to PB by its advocates – is a set of methods through which local people can decide the spending priorities of a local budget. It might involve a local council devolving some funds to a local ward so that the residents of that ward can decide how the funds are spent.
PB is quite radical. It relies on a local parish, town or district council trusting its citizens to allocate funding ‘wisely’. This might be calling a village meeting to decide on how to spend a designated pot of council funding on general projects and/or contracts; or it might be a specific budget to determine – for example – the litter bins or dog-bins that are to be installed and maintained over a period of years.
PB can be powerful as it uses the knowledge and expertise of communities to determine expenditure; it can also be risky as it can be influenced by stronger groups lobbying for their favourite causes.
A study of PB and its methods just might be timely! HWRCC and ERVAS are holding an event on PB next week and have issued an invite to parish councillors to attend. We hope lots of them do! PB may have its risks – but it probably has many more exciting opportunities to offer for citizen empowerment and effective decision-making.
Find out more about PB… it could be the shape of things to come!