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More choice for communities

30th October 2017

People across Scotland will now have a say in how £100 million of council funds will be used in their communities.

Council leaders have agreed that at least 1% of local government budgets will be subject to participatory budgeting by the end of 2021, giving communities more influence than ever to make decisions on how funding is spent in their localities.

Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart said: ""This is a clear way of bringing democracy to local communities by giving people a direct voice in spending decisions. Through the Community Choices Fund, the Scottish Government has already invested £4.7 million in participatory budgeting activity by supporting public authorities and communities across Scotland. Last year, the fund helped over 39,000 people to have a say on spending in their local area.

"We want to see a Scotland in which everyone can play a full part in society and every community has different challenges and opportunities, which is why it is fantastic news at least 1% of local authority budgets will be subject to community choices budgeting.

"Local authorities are to be congratulated on taking democracy closer to the people and we will continue to work with them, communities and all sectors across Scotland to make community choice budgeting a success."

The framework for the operation of the fund has been produced by the Scottish Government and COSLA. Local authorities will decide how to take forward the work to reach the target.

COSLA spokesperson for Community Wellbeing, Councillor Kelly Parry, said:

“This framework will hopefully see Scotland's Councils building on strong examples of participatory democracy. I am looking forward to a growth in the number of cases where local people express their needs and preferences and engage in decision making that will improve their lives. COSLA is committed to ensuring local democracy is strengthened.

“The Commission for Strengthening Local Democracy, stated that we see participatory budgeting as becoming ‘the standard by which [participation in decision making] is delivered in Scotland'. If we are to achieve this and build trust we must see our public sector partners, including the Scottish Government, being engaged in using the process as part of the way we work."

Community Choices budgeting is the term used in Scotland for participatory budgeting which enables the active participation of community voices in local financial decision making. Community Choices is defined as: ‘Community Choices budgeting supports a democratic and engaged citizenship by enabling local people to have a direct say in how a defined public budget can be used to address their priorities. It is one method of community engagement that can be used alongside other models of empowerment as part of a wider approach to advancing participatory democracy.'

More information about participatory budgeting can be found at on the PB Scotland website https://pbscotland.scot/

The 1% target is also one of five commitments included in the Scottish Government's Open Government Partnership national action plan. http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/12/2667

More information on the Community Choices Fund can be found online. http://www.gov.scot/Topics/People/engage/CommunityChoicesFund

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