The Funding Revolution that gives power to the people
Written by Nick Garbutt
Why can’t local people get to decide how money invested in their communities is spent?
Like all powerful ideas it is simple, obvious and hard to contest. After all residents know what the needs of a community are because they live there. They are therefore just as much experts as policy-makers and planners and philanthropists and voluntary sector organisations, politicians, government departments and planners.
Yet in Northern Ireland not only is participatory budgeting rarely discussed, most people have never even heard of it.
An initiative led by CommunityPlaces NI and funded by the Building Change Trust has just been launched to set that right. It will promote the idea of local people deciding how to allocate part of a public budget and provide all the training and facilitation required to make that a reality.
Participatory Budgeting (PB) is an idea whose time has come. It is gaining traction all over the globe. It is improving communities, deepening engagement between citizens, governments and local authorities and helping to reshape our ideas of how democracy and philanthropy should work.
It does not represent a threat to politicians, public servants and experts. Instead it is slowly reviving representative democracy, making it more suited to the present era.