What is Participatory Budgeting?

Participation and Place-Making: Thriving Communities through Participatory Budgeting.


Jez Hall: What is Participatory Budgeting
Hear Jez Hall speaking at the Revive & Thrive Legendary Places and Spring Conference, Northwich March 2nd and 3rd

What is Participatory Budgeting?  

It is a way to connect the concerns of local residents, public authorities and business. Bringing together skills, energy and expertise, within a vibrant process of local co-design. It operates across the world at scale, and also at the hyper-local level.

From multi-million euro capital developments in the City of Paris to small scale local regeneration projects in local communities in Norfolk. Primarily based on opening up decision making on public budgets, it’s not just about money. It’s also about stimulating new learning, volunteering and community activism. The role of businesses in place-making through participatory budgeting is often underappreciated but there are examples where it has happened successfully. Such as a Stockport Council Town Centre business improvement programme that happened a few years ago.

More recently Participatory Budgeting has taken off in Scotland with communities from the Outer Hebrides to South Ayrshire using the model to express their needs, their passion, and their commitment to their community and its future prosperity. Projects tackling subjects as diverse as Islamophobia, mental health and rural transport, and hundreds of others. The Scottish Government has invested £2m in its promotion and this has seen more millions Eventbrite - Revive & Thrive Legendary Places Conferencereleased by local authorities and public bodies. At a recent international PB conference held in Edinburgh delegates came from as far afield as China, The USA, Kenya, Portugal and Sweden.

This presentation will take you on a journey through the rich landscape of Participatory Budgeting. From the rebirth of hidden gardens in Lisbon, to new community orchards in Leeds. From young people participating in Seattle over $100,000s of dollars, to small projects within youth clubs in Cheshire funded by the proceeds of crime. From social entrepreneurship programmes in Lancaster to police tackling gang culture in Salford. Participatory Budgeting is about local people making decisions directly over how local public budgets are spent. Those budgets can come from many sources, and can include sponsorship and donations from businesses, from health authorities and from local councils. Sometimes matched by local fundraising or charitable foundations. One exciting development is the use of participatory budgeting to share the profits from community renewable energy programmes.What is Participatory Budgeting

Mostly importantly is how PB unlocks a communities greatest resource. Its local people. As exemplified in these two quotes from the city of  Luton’s Participatory Budgeting:

Nazia, 21 – now in her third year studying youth and community at the University of Bedfordshire – said: “It’s been really exciting for me to apply for my first community grants and secure funding for both projects. The money we receive will help not only to educate our young people, but also to look at bringing the people of Vestry Close together to help make the streets a cleaner place.”

Aldwyck Housing Group’s youth and ASB interventions officer, Hafi Rahman, said: “It’s superb to see Nazia leading and securing community grants for the people of Luton. She has built fantastic relationships with the communities she works in and that is testament to her hard work and passion for really making a difference.”What is participatory budgeting

To find out more about participatory budgeting Jez Hall suggests delegates to the Northwich conference can access a number of useful resources and videos, that can be found on the UK PB Network website and elsewhere. See some examples below

Jez Hall, Director, Shared Future CIC 


Eventbrite - Revive & Thrive Legendary Places Conference


Find out more about what Participatory Budgeting is by watching the video below and follow the various links too

An introductory guide from the UK PB network:

Revive & Thrive Regeneration Events
The sponsors of Revive & Thrive Legendary Places and Spring Conference


An article from the Academy of Urbanism:


A description of the massive 5 year PB process underway in Paris:


Local engagement in Luton, where local people decide on local projects they like


Revitalising Caracol de Penha, the most voted project in the history of Lisbon’s participatory budget process.