Losing control of the purse strings

Money talks, but how can we put purse strings back in the hands of the people?

Attendees at this year’s Losing Control have a unique opportunity to learn the ins and outs of participatory budgeting (PB) from expert and associate at PB Partners, Alan Budge.

Participatory budgeting is a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. It aims to give people real power over real money.

“Participatory budgeting is a very practical way of shifting a power balance, and since I learned about it and got involved with it, it has gone from strength to strength” says Budge.

There are two basic PB models. The first involves voting where small grants should go. That’s small scale PB. Large-scale PB involves residents commissioning services from providers using council and partner organisation budgets. This model is actively used by many local authorities in Scotland right now.

“I first heard about PB when someone called Hilary Wainwright came back from Brazil and gave a talk on how it was being used there around 15 years ago. I’d never heard of it at the time, but I had a real lightbulb moment that day,” said Budge, who consults on PB best practice.

“After an introduction to the concept, we’ll get Losing Control participants thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of PB in groups. Then, at the end, we’ll ask everyone to think about the one thing they’ll do differently when they return back to the office. The participants will drive the session and I’m sure everyone will learn a lot.”

Read more about PB’s Dundee roll-out here

You can watch Budge’s TEDx talk on the subject below:

Get more info on Alan’s session ‘Participatory Budgeting: Sharing Power for Real’ and the rest of the programme here