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Evaluation of GCC ‘Wee Green Grants’ Participatory Budgeting processes

Date: July 2022
Category: Report
Author: Chris Harkins

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In recent years the Scottish Government has set out an unprecedented level of political, legislative and investment support for community empowerment, participation and the strengthening of local democratic processes. Participatory Budgeting (PB) has emerged as a principal approach in achieving these goals and has gained significant traction and support across Scotland in recent years. Effective PB has the potential to energise and empower communities and to transform and enrich the relationships between citizens, community groups, community anchor organisations and all levels of government and public service.

This report details the key learning points from an evaluation of the ‘Wee Green Grants’ PB processes led by Glasgow City Council’s Parks and Greenspace department. The evaluation finds the Wee Green Grants initiative to be another example of a strong, authentic and democratic PB process. 

A pivotal strength of the Wee Green Grants were the values which underpinned the PB community panel’s inception, development and working throughout. These values are described as dignity, respect, patience and compromise. Amid the technocratic and mechanistic language that can surround PB at times, it is this ‘human touch’ that can so often be the difference between a high-quality process such as the Wee Green Grants and a lesser process. Significant PB capacity was developed amongst panel members, training workshops and extensive 'dialogue and deliberation', supported by the values described, were central to this.

The ability of PB to support action and embed community capacity on priority issues such as climate adaptation for example, has perhaps been underplayed in national narratives to date. The Wee Green Grants initiative demonstrates that PB can offer what could be described as a ‘natural community cascade’ of information, awareness raising and capacity. The report concludes with recommendations to inform the overall direction and continued development of PB across Glasgow City.