Peoples Budget

Participatory budgeting directly involves local people in making decisions about the public money being spent in their community. Involving the residents of an area-or community-to participate in the debate about what needs to be done and take decisions on the allocation of at least some of the available public funding. Peoples Budgeting should aim to increase public knowledge about how our taxes are spent. So information must be simple to understand, relevant and easy to get hold of. For example written in plain English, be up to date and in sufficient but not too much detail. Participatory Budgeting is all about local politicians and public employees being more accountable. That means discussions about the public budget should take place in the communities they affect, not behind closed doors.

Participatory Budgeting is about making sure local people have a fair opportunity to have their say and make a real contribution. That means they are involved before decisions are made, not asked afterwards for their opinion. Everyone has a chance to be heard, and given the time they need and the respect they deserve to participate. Community and small scale grants are vital to local communities. Having a People’s Budget means a lot more could be done to open up the decision making about local grants. How do you have your say? We know every year public bodies spend millions of pounds in our name. Looking at public budgets I find that 95% of local public expenditure is beyond the direct influence of local people. Sometimes this is because of the rules imposed by central government on local authorities. Statutory regulations and laws place most public money beyond direct democratic influence by citizens.  So we elect local councillors and we pay professionals to help manage the more complex problems for us. That is what a representative democracy does well most of the time. Saying local people can always have direct control over all public money is not very realistic. But about 5% of public expenditure every year is up for grabs, and not yet committed, so is available to invest in new services or in new needs within the community. This ‘investment’ budget is where deliberative and democratic processes (like Participatory Budgeting) operate best, and where some real change becomes possible.

The ‘trick’ is to design strong decision-making processes that ensures public investment isn’t captured by vested interests who naturally want to use it for their own benefit.                                                                                                                                                                That’s where The People’s Budget comes in. Helping you design better Participatory Budgeting processes that will work in your community to empower citizens.

Ask your councillor what scheme(s) he/she has voted for. Were you asked? Do you agree with the decisions? It is YOUR money and you have the right to know how it is spent.

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2 Responses to Peoples Budget

  1. Colin Tawn says:

    If APC’s last budget meeting is anything to go by the standards of conduct and understanding are woefully low. Why is it that every time the budget is presented it is Independent councillors-not Labour councillors-who find the discrepancies and vague language the causes for more debate on the budget? For the Clerk to the Council to present a different set of figures to those previously posted smacks of either incompetence or a complete lack of understanding of how the budget should be prepared.
    A ‘Peoples Budget’ is IMV a sound and very good idea. Local residents need to know how and why our money is spent AND which councillor(s) agree to the spend. I cannot remember ever being asked if I agreed with the budgets and I should mention that St.John is fond of telling us ‘the details are on the website’. What about the people who do not have internet access and have no way of knowing what the Parish Council is proposing simply because there is a lack of communications between those who are elected to (allegedly) look after our interests and the people who pay the bills? When was the last time APC put out a Press Release outlining any new proposals? why are’nt details published in the expensively glossy parish magazine?
    It is time we had peoples democracy as well as peoples budgets.


  2. Insider says:

    Asking the controlling Labour group to share budget information before they all vote to spend our money? A radical and progressive step in the right direction perhaps but while ever St.John and Dalton steamroller these sort of decisions through-because the other Labour councillors are economic illiterates-nothing will change and our community will continue to suffer.
    Anston Parish Labour councillors still believe ‘they know best’ and that is why they are a dying breed. The word “consultation” is not part of their language.
    Time for change.


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