The Scottish Government commissioned the Democratic Society (Demsoc) to conduct a research project into the use of digital tools to support Participatory Budgeting (PB), in the context of the requirements of local councils in Scotland. PB gives people the opportunity to decide how public money should be spent in their area. Digital democracy tools can support PB by allowing people to: submit ideas for funding; host discussion and deliberation of ideas; allocate budgets to specific projects or areas; and vote for ideas and projects to receive funding.

PB1We produced a report, drawn from Demsoc’s own research, workshops and discussions with 18 councils currently working on PB around Scotland. The report is now available to download.

This project included both needs assessment and product analysis components.

We engaged with officers from 18 councils across Scotland to ascertain what they saw as their current needs as well as their aspirations for the future with regards to digital PB tools. We also analysed over 60 digital tools and engaged with developers and experts to produce 6 demonstration websites to display how digital tools could be used as part of PB in Scotland.

We facilitated workshops across the country with participating councils to allow them to explore and assess possible digital tools that could be used to augment their PB projects. The data gathered throughout this 4-month project has  enabled us to form a number of recommendations that relate to the use of digital tools for PB in Scotland.

On the basis of our research and conversations with councils we recommended that:PB2

  • Digital engagement is an important support for and complement to participatory budgeting processes, but cannot replace offline engagement
  • A successful use of digital engagement will ensure
a wider range of voices are involved in PB processes
  • There is currently no single tool that is significantly better than the others in all situations, and 
no universal platform for participation.

The most suitable tools for Scottish councils to use are:

We published research into digital tools for PB in February 2016. We will be refreshing our research in Autumn 2017. Click here to find out more.

The Democratic Society have received funding from the Scottish Government to work with local authorities to support the uptake of digital engagement tools for PB.  This support will include technology and implementation support, establishing a PB Learning Group and providing learning materials and workshops for those embarking on digitally supported PB.

We will be working with the following councils:

  • Aberdeen City, using Participare in 3 localities
  • Aberdeenshire, using Participare and Dialogue across the region
  • Angus, using Dialogue for idea generation
  • Argyll & Bute
  • Edinburgh, using Participare for PB across the city
  • Fife, using Your Priorities for idea generation, and D21 for voting
  • Glasgow, using Participare & Zilino in projects across the city
  • Highlands, using Participare across the region
  • South Ayrshire, using Your Priorities across the region

If you are interested in using digital tools for PB in Scotland and would like support please email us at:

We've written about some of the processes we've supported to use digital tools for PB in Scotland. Click here to read them.



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