A Citizens' Budget: Regenerating local democracy through community participation in public budgeting | Brazil | Community

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The participatory budget (PB0 pioneered in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre and now adopted in at least 70 cities in Brazil represents a form of participatory democracy and local governance developed in the South from which much can be leardned in cities in the North. Community Pride, together with Oxfam's UK Poverty Programme, developed the idea of a 'learning exchange' between the cities of Manchester and Salford in the UK and Porto Alegre and Recife in Brazil. This report seeks to reflect the learning which took place during this project.
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   Regenerating local democracy through community participation in public budgeting Community Pride Initiative – November 2000 Includes Update – July 2002 Supported by the Oxfam UK Poverty Programme 1  Community Pride Initiative 491 Mill Street Openshaw Manchester M11 2AD Tel: 0161 231 4111 Fax: 0161 231 4555 E-mail: edcox@communitypride.org.uk   Contents UPDATE – July 2002   1. Introduction..................................................................................................1 2. The Visit........................................................................................................2 3. Participatory Budgeting – a brief summary...............................................3 4. The Development of Participatory Budgeting ..........................................4 5. Technical Issues concerning the PB Process...........................................6 a. The geographical structure.....................................................................................6 b. Fora and meetings..................................................................................................6 c. The Annual Cycle...................................................................................................7 d. Rules & criteria.......................................................................................................7 e. What the PB can fund.............................................................................................8 f. Participation and inclusion issues...........................................................................8 g. Local authority organisation....................................................................................8 h. Financial issues......................................................................................................8 i. Impact and cost effectiveness.................................................................................9 6. Participatory Budgeting and the Political Process...................................10 7. Community Organisation............................................................................11 8. The Role of NGOs (the voluntary sector)...................................................15 9. A Summary of the Strengths and Weaknesses of PB ..............................18    Strengths......................................................................................................................18 a. Improvements to the provision of services and infrastructure..................................18 b. Strengthening community organisation and the voluntary sector............................18 c. Renewing democratic and political processes.........................................................19 d. Tackling neighbourhood deprivation.......................................................................19 e. Attraction to business and international recognition................................................19    Weaknesses.................................................................................................................20 a. Complexity and bureaucracy..................................................................................20 2  b. The need for strong commitment.............................................................................20 c. The need for capacity building................................................................................20 d. The danger of raising expectations.........................................................................20 10. The opportunities and challenges of PB for local authorities…………..21 a. Case Study 1: Manchester......................................................................................22 b. Case Study 2: Salford.............................................................................................23 11. Two recommendations for local authorities in Greater Manchester......24 12. Acknowledgements....................................................................................24 Appendix 1: Questions used during the visit.................................................25 Appendix 2: Geographical structure in Recife...............................................27 Appendix 3: Annual cycle in Porto Alegre......................................................28 A Citizen’s Budget Update: July 2002 Following initial exploration of the processes of participatory budgeting pioneered in cities across Brazil, the Oxfam UK Poverty Programme funded Community Pride Initiative to employ a part-time Public Budgeting Research Officer. The appointment of Jez Hall into this role has enabled CPI to make significant developments in its efforts to achieve two of the aims srcinally set out for the ‘learning exchange’, namely:  To facilitate South-North learning around local governance issues, and in particular the Brazilian experience of participatory budgeting;  For community activists and council representatives from Manchester and Salford to identify possibilities for changes to policy and practice which would enable greater participation of communities in municipal decision making and hence strengthen local democracy. This short update draws together some of the developments made in the last 2 years. Manchester Budget Consultation Initial approaches to Manchester City Council were met with some resistance to the idea of learning from overseas, however, CPI was invited to facilitate a seminar for voluntary sector agencies concerning the local authority budget for 2001/2. In November 2001 CPI was invited to organise a second seminar concerning the 2002/3 Budget which served to build upon the previous year’s process and engaged participants in a number of workshops with departmental heads about the way in which spending plans were developed. It is intended that CPI will proactively seek earlier involvement in the 2003/4 budget setting process in order to have greater influence over the decision-making process. Local Strategic Partnership More significant opportunities for exploring more participatory approaches to public budgeting have been identified through the development of Manchester’s Local Strategic Partnership (LSP). A short paper has been written identifying the similarities between elements of the Brazilian PB model and the approach taken in Manchester in the development of its LSP. This has led to some interest in a more particular piece of work to explore the potential for using a ‘budget matrix’ approach in making investment allocations between geographical areas of Manchester and between Community Strategy themes. A pilot proposal is currently being developed with a view to it being presented to the LSP for application in Year 3 of the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund.  Alongside the LSP, CPI has become one of the lead agencies in the development of Manchester’s Community Network (the process through which voluntary and community groups 3  become involved in LSP deliberations). CPI has been able to adapt a number of key elements of the PB model within the evolving structure of the Community Network for Manchester. This has included:  Comprehensive geographical and thematic structures;   A set of ‘rules’ and ‘processes’ to facilitate engagement;   A ‘budget matrix’ approach to allocating the Community Empowerment Fund;  The development of cartoons and briefings to facilitate communication of complex and challenging concepts. This has also involved briefing a smaller group of activists, the CPI ‘cross-community gathering’ in a little more depth about some of the principles at work behind the PB process. Salford Efforts in Salford have focused around the development of a ‘Shadow Budget Matrix’ process. Following a series of seminars with senior councillors and officials in Salford City Council particular interest was taken in the ‘budget matrix’ element of PB as a mechanism to draw together locally articulated priorities with departmental spending plans in a more systematic fashion. A ‘project proposal’ to apply a budget matrix, together with a series of ‘dialogues’ between Council departments, concerning a notional sum of £5 million has been accepted by the City Council and work will begin in August 2002. The pilot scheme will compare actual investment in 2002/3 versus the investment allocations generated by a shadow budget matrix. Depending on the evaluation of the shadow process it has been indicated that a similar scheme could be run ‘live’ in 2003/4. National developments There has been considerable interest in PB outside Manchester and Salford, not least at a national level through the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit which invited CPI to organise a national seminar about PB and the neighbourhood renewal agenda in March 2002. The seminar entitled Making Participation Really Count!   attracted a wide variety of participants from within national government, local authorities and LSPs across the country, government offices in the regions and Community Network lead organisations. It generated considerable interest and debate about the usefulness of PB with respect to LSPs and Neighbourhood Renewal and has led to a series of recommendations which are to be explored by the Neighbourhood Renewal. A report of the seminar is now available. The NRU seminar was followed up with a meeting with Sally Keeble MP, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for local government. The meeting reinforced national interest in learning from good practice overseas and led to an offer to visit our work in Manchester and Salford. The seminar has also generated considerable interest in a number of other local authority areas including Bristol, Bradford, Liverpool and Kirklees as well as a request to link into Scotland’s community budgeting   process. CPI has also made presentations and participated in:  The All Party Parliamentary Group on Poverty addressing issues of local democracy and public budgeting;   A Local Ecomonic Policy Unit seminar concerning LSPs;  The Development Studies Association Annual Conference 2001;   A European training programme on participatory governance held in Trento, Italy. 4
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