Evaluation of Participatory Budgeting Activity in Scotland 2016-2018
Impact of participatory budgeting on communities, services, democracy and tackling inequality across local authorities in Scotland.
Through various processes of policy learning and transfer by governments, civil society organisations, academic and social networks, Participatory Budgeting (PB) has been rolling out across the world as a form of local engagement in decision making on how resources are allocated to neighbourhood, city, village, or specific groups of people for over thirty years. Participatory Budgeting (PB) originated in Puerto Alegre in Brazil during the 1980s and is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, in which communities decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget.
This report is the final output of an evaluation of such PB activity in Scotland commissioned by the Scottish Government in 2015 and which was based upon fieldwork conducted throughout 2016 until September 2018. The specific areas of focus for the evaluation, as determined by the Scottish Government, were the identifiable impacts on local communities, local services, local democracy, and tackling inequalities. The design and approach to the evaluation study is set out in detail in section 1.3. Over a three-year period, the evaluation project included observations of PB activities, participatory action research and multiple in-depth interviews with elected members, council officers and community members engaged in PB in order to analyse how PB is understood, defined and expressed by local authorities and communities. In addition, the evaluation sought to explore perspectives on the future development of PB in Scotland, with a particular focus on how local authorities are approaching the implementation of the 1% target for local authorities by 2021.