Participatory budgeting (PB) means involving people in budgetary decisions that affect them, giving local people the power to support local organisations and services that they feel are important, and gives local organisations and groups an opportunity to extend and enhance current provision.
Organisations and local people can make bids for funding by creating and submitting an application detailing why their organisation should receive money from the pot. Members of the local community then take part in a democratic voting process to select projects that receive funding.
“When local residents and community groups have a stake in deciding what projects are funded locally, it empowers residents, strengthens engagement around finding solutions and knits communities together” (Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Simple Changes #44).
Funding was provided by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board via Early Years and Prevention funding to support Participatory Budgeting programmes in Newport, Caerphilly, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent.
The funding was intended to support local groups and organisations to develop projects that strengthen community well-being as we emerge from the challenges of COVID-19. A slightly different approach has been taken in each area.
In Newport and Blaenau Gwent we’ve carried out a series of PB sessions with the local community. In Torfaen applications for funding are underway, whilst in Caerphilly PB plans are currently in development.
Blaenau Gwent PSB partner organisations commissioned Mutual Gain to develop and deliver an online Participatory Budgeting programme
‘Community Voice, Community Choice’ Partners involved included: Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, Aneurin Leisure, Natural Resources Wales, GAVO, Blaenau Gwent Integrated Wellbeing Network, and Tai Calon.
The key steps in the process included:
Briefings and training to establish a community planning group to plan and deliver the programme, involving local organisations and community members
The programme was advertised to encourage applications, including online support sessions for interested applicants to help them complete their application and a short film
Residents were invited to register for online voting events, and were sent information on the projects being considered. At the events in September, attendees were shown short ‘nomination films’ from each project and were invited to vote for their preferred project.
As a result, 40 projects were supported with funding.
In Newport, the Participatory Budgeting process ‘Our Voice, Our Choice, Our Port’ took place between January and March 2021. Mutual Gain were commissioned to run an online process similar to that described above and 24 projects were awarded funding.
We’re excited at the progress of Participatory Budgeting in Torfaen. Two webinars were hosted in October, which launched the application process. Using the ‘Vocaleyes.org’ platform - Community groups and individuals can create projects and ideas to support the community. We’ll let you know more soon.
We’re developing materials that highlight some of the ‘winners’ from the PB process, keep checking these pages, it’ll be added in the next few days.