This paper sets out our ambition for participatory budgeting – people and public representatives making decisions in a way that releases innovation.
- Participatory budgeting involves communities working with budget holders to define local priorities and identify and allocate available resources.
- Benefits include: individuals feel listened to and engaged; communities are more cohesive; and leaders and citizens have trust in decisions they take together.
- Challenges include: ensuring everyone involved feels confident about participating; maintaining the citizen/state relationship; and securing representation and engagement.
- The application of participatory budgeting has the potential to go much further, to support innovation and transformation around areas with the most constrained resources.
With fewer resources, public services need to look for new ways of supporting people. Innovation, in turn, demands participation. Participatory budgeting has developed as a process for shared decision-making between citizens and the state.
Recognising that some local authorities are already pushing participatory budgeting to the next level, this paper outlines Nesta’s and the Big Society Network’s Your Local Budget programme to support leading local authorities and to generate insights about the potential of participatory budgeting.