Participatory budgeting

Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a way for residents to have a direct say in how to spend part of a public budget.

It is also happening in other councils. The Scottish Government recommends that all councils allocate at least 1% of their budgets via PB by the financial year 2020/21.

How it works

There are four simple steps to carrying out Participatory Budgeting:

  1. The public generate ideas on budget spending.
  2. Groups present their ideas at a public event: information stall, video or presentation.
  3. People vote for their priorities.
  4. Resources are directed to the ideas with the most votes.


By introducing participatory budgeting to mainstream Council budgets, our goal is to:

  • Open up government by encouraging residents to play a greater role in spending decisions.
  • Improve services and service delivery by enabling residents to express what is important to them and how it can be achieved.
  • Widen engagement with the community by ensuring all members of our community have a voice.  We want to engage actively with those who may face barriers to having their voice heard.
  • Build community by inspiring residents to engage with each other within their communities and to create new networks, organisations, and opportunities.
  • Strengthen democracy by complementing representative democracy.


Past projects

Some questions answered

Is this about saving money?

No. It is a new way to decide on how council budgets are spent. We want you to have a say.

We wish to develop active and stronger communities that are:

  • better informed about public budgets and decision-making
  • able to make informed decisions on how and where public funds are spent
  • more likely to confidently participate in community activities and decision making.

Don’t councillors have to agree how the budget is spent?

Our 18 Elected Members decide on the Council’s budget. But under this programme, they devolve their control over this portion of spending, so that you decide.

Why not give the Community Councils or community groups the money?

This is about widening engagement and community involvement. So it's important that everyone in Midlothian Council’s wards can have an input.

We’ve already been involved in discussions about the way the Council spends it budget

This gives people a direct say in how money is spent in their immediate area. It's essential that we listen to what our citizens and communities are telling us: that is how we develop and deliver on our priorities. This project is therefore part of an ongoing dialogue.

Because of recent budget cuts, shouldn’t we be spending on other priorities like litter, economic development, or schools?

Our other services will not lose out because capital funding has been set aside for this.

There may be other projects that could be funded through PB, for example new, improved lighting. We will update these pages as ideas come in.

We already have Neighbourhood Plans; can't you use those?

This programme complements all the work going on in our communities and the plans for them. And this funding has been specifically set aside for new projects.

Whose idea was this?

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 obliges local authorities to ‘promote and facilitate’ public participation in their decisions and activities, including the allocation of resources.

You've done this before; why do it again?

There have been small grants PB projects, such as Cost of the School Day and Food Glorious Food. However this is a new programme, and the first time citizens and communities will have a direct say in how we spend a capital budget.