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Supported by the Scottish Government’s £6.5 million community choices fund over the past four years, participatory budgeting has gone from strength to strength, and has established itself firmly in Scotland. Last year, more than 70,000 people voted for the things that matter to them in their communities, with almost 1,000 local organisations securing funding.
Participatory budgeting has been very successful in supporting the aspirations of the 2015 act by putting decisions about how we invest in communities into the hands of the people who live and work in them.
Is the Government aware that delivery of participatory budgeting is taking up significant local government officer time, and therefore has a significant cost attached to it? What support will the Scottish Government supply to assist with on-going delivery of participatory budgeting?
I have just outlined that we have supported the policy with significant resources. The decisions that people are making are better decisions not only for their communities but for the local authorities. We are ensuring that we support local authorities through the process.
Participatory budgeting has grown across the country, and is enabling and empowering communities to take decisions. Most people would agree that that is a good thing; I hope that local authorities also agree that it is a good thing.
Furthermore, we are providing support for communities of interest. Glasgow Disability Alliance published the “Budgeting for Equality” action research report and is helping to ensure that people with disabilities can take part in making important decisions.
The key thing is that we want to ensure that everybody gets a chance to have their say in how decisions are made where they live, because that often results in better decisions for the community.