Finlay Buchanan on his experience of Participatory Budgeting (PB) at Carrick Knowe Parish Church in EdinburghApplying to get funding for a community project can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time.
Even if you can track down potential sources of grants, the final decision sometimes seems to be made by a faceless committee.
Participatory Budgeting puts the decision-making firmly in the hands of the people most affected – the local community. Carrick Knowe Parish Church in Edinburgh were one of four congregations to take part in the Participatory Budgeting pilot run by the Church of Scotland in Spring 2017, and we were allocated £5000 to give away to local groups in amounts of up to £1000.
We were keen to take part for a number of reasons, but the biggest attraction was the opportunity to strengthen links in our neighbourhood and show our commitment to being “the friendly church at the heart of the community.” With tight timescales, there were challenges in raising awareness, encouraging applications, and organising the voting event. This meant that we focused on existing groups working within the community, and didn’t have time to encourage new groups with fresh ideas to get together and submit a bid.
However, we had support available through the Church and Society Council staff team, and the four pilot churches were able to work together to develop material and share ideas. This saved a huge amount of effort and made the exercise achievable in an incredibly short time.
At Carrick Knowe we ended up with nine applications for amounts ranging from £750-£1000.
Each group made a short, lively presentation to members of the community at an open event. Voting was open to anyone from primary six upwards, and everyone had five votes to allocate to different projects – a voting system chosen to ensure people looked beyond any organisations they may have come along to support.
One of the attractions of the PB approach is that votes are cast and counted immediately. Within 30 minutes we had announced the results and six groups were awarded sums between £450 and £1000. Local Authorities are being encouraged by the Scottish Government to increase the use of PB, and many congregations are in an ideal position to serve their communities by hosting or taking part in PB events – it’s well worth considering!
Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Bill
A Bill to pardon persons convicted of certain historical sexual offences and to provide a process for convictions for those offences to be disregarded. The Bill is at stage 1.
Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Repeal) (Scotland) Bill
A Bill to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. Stage 1 of the bill was completed on 25 January 2018.
A Bill to make provision about how land is developed and used. The Bill is currently at stage 1 which will be completed by 1 June 2018.
Social Security (Scotland) Bill
A Bill to make provision for social security. The Bill is at stage 2 which is due to be completed by 9 March 2018.
Public consultations are published by the Scottish Parliament and by the Scottish Government and include the following:
The Joint Public Issues Team (JPIT) has responded to UK Government proposals for changes to Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures. The response can be viewed here.
The Church of Scotland has also responded to the consultation, ‘Empowering Schools: A consultation on the provisions of the Education (Scotland) Bill’. To view click here