Participatory Budgeting

Shared Future CIC delivers expert advice and support on Participatory Budgeting (PB). This democratic innovation is an effective way to engage and empower citizens in shaping public services and investments.

Participatory Budgeting (PB) enables local people to make decisions over local public budgets. These can be within local neighbourhoods and communities, or across a whole Local Authority area.

PB has been recognised as an effective way to:

  • Address inequalities in service provision and resource allocation
  • Engage and empower citizens through deliberation on public investment
  • Stimulate coproduction, trust and responsibility between citizens and government

PB is a flexible, values led method for elevating your community engagement. There is no “one-size fits all” approach. At the local level it can operate as a form of participatory grant making, where local people decide which projects receive funding. Or it can be used to address specific topics, such as community safety, health and well-being or climate change. The real power of PB is when it’s scaled up to consider a whole local budget, with significant resources and powers devolved to citizens.

“The truth about a government’s intention is not found in its vision, it is found in its budget.”

How we can help

We understand that PB needs to fit with local contexts and needs. It’s flexibility within different settings is its strength. Every budget or investment decision can be more participatory, more deliberative, and involve more people. We have a track record advocating for PB going back nearly 25 years. We have assisted countless local authorities, public bodies and community led organisations with their PB processes.

We also undertake research and run projects on how PB can build a stronger local economy. We support citizens take action on climate change through our PB briefings and free toolkits. We recognise the importance of being local, connected and close to each other, and of building a participatory democracy that meets everyone’s needs.

We can provide a range of flexible and affordable PB support services, including:

  • Strategic support on policy and implementation
  • Facilitating planning meetings
  • Bespoke training to staff, elected members and local residents
  • Writing reports, undertaking research and conducting PB evaluations.

Our nine Values & Principles FOR

Participatory Budgeting

Local Ownership

Residents should be involved in setting budget priorities and identifying projects for public spend in their area wherever possible.

Direct Involvement

PB should allow residents have direct as well as representative engagement wherever possible.

Shared Responsibility

PB should build coproduction, common purpose and a shared commitment from all stakeholders.


PB Processes should take citizens beyond personal choice and involve real deliberation around budget decisions.


Participants must have good and clear access to PB processes. This includes accessible venues, good information and support to participate.


PB processes are designed to give citizens full and clear knowledge of public budgets in their area, even those over which they do not have a direct say.

Citizen Empowerment

PB events and processes are centrally concerned with empowering local citizens in making decisions over local services and shaping their local area through allocating part of a public budget.

Mainstream Involvement

Over time PB processes should move towards everyone being involved in decisions over larger, mainstream budgets and investment (as opposed to only small grants processes).

Support for Democracy

Participation mechanisms such as PB must support representative democracy rather than seen as undermining it. Public bodies should advocate for and champion local democratic structures.

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Participatory Budgeting

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Work with us

We have unrivalled expertise within England in designing and supporting PB programmes. Find out more about the services we can offer