The Welsh Government is exploring the role Participatory Budgeting (PB) could play in the Welsh Government budget. To help inform this work, a new report by the PPIW provides evidence on the different types of PB, how they have been used, and the key considerations for designing a PB process.
The report demonstrates the range of activity that PB encompasses, how it has been used to achieve different aims, and the different contexts in which it has been implemented. Common to these iterations is the involvement of a local population in decision making regarding the distribution of public funds.
Well implemented PB can lead to improvements in citizen engagement, intergenerational understanding, levels of self-confidence among participants, and in perceptions of public service providers. However, the range of potential benefits for PB often depends on the scale and nature of the participation and the aim of the process.
At its most radical PB can be used to redistribute wealth to the most deprived areas, allowing citizens a significant degree of control on where, and how, resources are allocated. In Porto Alegre (Brazil), the birthplace of PB, the process has fundamentally changed the relationship between citizen and state, improved the functioning of government, and led to improved public services and infrastructure. PB in Europe has tended to be more conservative and focussed on involving people in how pots of funding are spent. As such the impacts have not been as significant.
In developing a PB process, the key question is: what are the public being asked to do and why? Clearly articulating the aim of PB, and deciding on the level of desired participation helps to inform subsequent decisions on the scale and scope of the exercise, who should be involved, and the process and methods to be pursued.