What is participatory budgeting (PB)?

Participatory budgeting (PB) is a democratic process of allocating funds or resources.  In practice, this means the local community deciding how funds or resources should be allocated. Making the decision usually involves getting together, learning about proposed uses of the money, and then some form of voting or scoring to identify the most popular proposals.

There are many examples across Edinburgh, Scotland, the United Kingdom and the world.

A very local example to us in Leith is £eith Decides.

What is Leith Links Community Council?

Leith Links Community Council is the local Community Council which is charged with representing the interests of the local community in the Leith Links, Seafield, Pirniefield, Lochend & Restalrig areas.

It is made up of elected members of the community and meets once a month in public, to which members of the community are invited.

For more information visit their website, facebook page or twitter page.

You can see the boundaries of the Leith Links Community Council area on the map alongside.

If we come up with ideas, will the Community Council do all the work and deliver all the various projects?

No, that wouldn’t be possible as the Community Council is only made up of a few volunteers. We will set up and publicise the scheme, help applicants to devise a workable project, organise the voting process, and give the funds to the successful projects. But it’s up to the project applicants and their teams to actually carry out / deliver the projects.

We will also administer grant payments and monitor the outcomes of those projects (light touch) and report to Scottish Government.

Will applying and doing a project mean a lot of difficult and tiresome paperwork?

No. We are aiming to make it all as simple as possible. You will have to fill in an application (but fairly short, and we’ll help you), provide proof of identity etc., and sign an agreement when you receive money. We’ll expect you to keep and produce receipts to account for money spent. Otherwise we don’t require long written reports etc.- we’ll mainly just ask for photos and video material showing your project in action.

Should we apply for a Small Grant or a Larger Grant?

Well, that’s really up to you and what the project is, that you want to do. Try to think it through from beginning to end, breaking down and listing all the costs, as accurately as you can. The final figure will determine which grant category is suitable.

Bear in mind that there will be 12 or more Small Grants available, but only about 4 Larger Grants- in other words there will be more competition for the Larger Grants.

What if my project costs less – or more – than the Grant amounts?

You do not have to bid for the maximum amount in each category. If your project only actually costs £50 or £300 or £1,000 or whatever,, just apply for that amount. The money will go further, and voters will see that you are not being greedy.

If your project costs more than the maximum grant available, go back to the drawing board to adjust the project and tailor your costs. Your application will not be accepted if the project can only happen if you can find additional funding from another source, in the future – too uncertain. Voters are unlikely to vote for your project if it is unrealistically costed. (But if you do already have additional funding from another source that would definitely allow the project to happen, make this clear in your application.)

Can we apply to BOTH the Small and the Larger Grant funds?

Yes, but only if you are applying for two completely different, separate projects. You may not apply to both funds (in other words, a possible total of up to £2,900) for the same project, or for different parts of the same project.

Can we apply for a grant to pay someone’s wages?

No, that is a a recurring cost not a ‘project’, and is not covered by this scheme. You could, however, apply for a grant to pay a one-off fee to a specialist to run a particular workshop or training session (or course of sessions), or to (e.g.) pay travel expenses or a small honorarium to a special speaker or entertainer.

As the applicant / project leader or participant, your own input will be on a voluntary basis.

What does ‘community benefit’ actually mean? What projects would qualify?

Well, if you bought a load of sandwiches and cake and drinks just for your own immediate family, that’s ‘personal gain’ and would not qualify. But if you buy sandwiches and cakes and drinks and then host a tea-party, maybe with a local entertainer thrown in, and invite a group of lonely pensioners, say once a month,  then that does benefit the community, and that project WOULD qualify.

A project does not have to benefit EVERYBODY in the whole area in order to qualify. It just has to benefit a group of people – whether that is a specific group like the example above or a general group (like everybody that walks past a piece of ground you’ve planted up to be more attractive).

Can we submit our application by email or online?

No, sorry. You can download the form, and fill it out by computer (or by hand) but you need to submit your application on paper,  in person, face-to-face. You can do this by coming along to one of the ‘Help & Support’ sessions, or if necessary, get in touch to make a special arrangement outside those hours / locations.

This is because we need to verify and cross-check your identity documents, address, bank account details etc.and get you to sign our Terms and Conditions Agreement, along with your application (in the event that you are successful and grant money is awarded). Scottish Government requires that that public money is carefully accounted for.

As applicants – do we have to come along to the Social / Voting Event ion 11th March 2017?

Yes, all project applicants are required to attend this event (or at least one / some of your team). How else will voters hear about your project and decide if they want to vote for you?  If you don’t attend, your project doesn’t get any votes. But don’t worry if you are shy. You will not be asked to give a speech or anything, just to display your project outline and chat informally to folk.

When will we know if we’ve been successful in getting a grant?

The results will be announced a week after the Social / Voting event, on 16th March 2017. Do come along to the Results Announcement evening. Or, you will be notified by email or phone, shortly afterwards.

What happens then?

If you are successful, you will get ready to start your project. If you have a Small Grant we will give you a cheque there and then. If you have a Large Grant, we will make an early appointment with you to agree a programme of budgeting, staged payments, collection of receipts etc.

Is this a one off exercise?

At this time yes, funding has been secured for 2016/17 only.  However, if it is a success we will be seeking funding for future years from any available sources.