Other than a bit of a mouthful, what is participatory budgeting (sometimes shortened to just PB)? Basically, it’s an exercise where you get to take part in deciding how budgets are spent. You use your vote to shape what kinds of things public money is spent on.
Organisations such as local Councils are funded by public money and often they need the participation of the public to help make sure they are spending the money on services that support the things that matter most to communities. The Community Empowerment Act (Scotland) 2015, requires Councils to allocate a portion of their budget for local communities to decide how it is spent – with eventually 1% of their total budget to be decided in this way.
It isn’t just Councils who might use PB. Organisations that receive public money may want to ask the public what they should prioritise spending it on. Your school may even ask you to vote on things they spend.
One of the most well-known PB initiatives in Renfrewshire is the Celebrating Renfrewshire Fund. It is specifically for young people in Renfrewshire and gives them a voice in the community and lets them decide how to make living as a young person in Renfrewshire better. Each year you can vote for projects that put themselves forward for funding. You can usually read about them right here on the Renfrewshire pages of the Young Scot site. Using your Young Scot National Entitlement Card (NEC) you can cast your vote when it is open and prioritise the services and projects you think deserve the money. By using your NEC it means you can vote on the Young Scot Voting Platform and it is one vote per person which keeps it fair. You can find out more about the projects the young people of Renfrewshire voted for by checking out the Celebrating Renfrewshire pages of the Renfrewshire Council website.
Another project is called #YouDecide. The public (not just young people) are invited to submit their ideas on things they want improved. These are then shortlisted and put to a public vote. More information on the project and who received funding last year is available on the Renfrewshire Council website.
Keep your eyes peeled for PB projects coming up – it is the perfect chance to use your voice!
You can find out more about PB in general on the PB Scotland website.