Digital Tools and Participatory Budgeting in Scotland

The Scottish Government is funding The Democratic Society to help councils and communities hold participatory budgeting processes online.

Our work is part of a national programme to help more people take part in decisions about how public money is spent in their communities. We work with a wider group of organisations – and are part of the national PB Working Group, helping to encourage and support participatory budgeting across Scotland.

How we can help

If you’re from a Scottish council doing participatory budgeting or a community organisation with Community Choices funding you can get help from us:

      • Access to a digital PB tool to host your  participatory budgeting process. You will be able to invite people to propose ideas, discuss them together and vote on them, all online.
      • Support from our digital engagement team in how to make the most out of digital PB and how to make it a natural part of how you do participation. Including:
          • Expertise on digital promotion and engagement;
          • Expertise, from a PB specialist, in designing a good participatory budgeting process that includes digital PB;
          • Expertise in using and getting the best from digital PB tools.

Find out more about the support we can offer councils

Find out more about how we can support community organisations

Contact us now

What is digital PB?

Like traditional participatory budgeting, digital PB gives people the power to suggest ideas for how to spend money, discuss (or deliberate) those ideas, and vote on them.

We’ve been working, as part of a team with other organisations, on this programme since 2015.

You can find out more about PB in Scotland – including the PB Working Group, which we’re part of – on the PB Scotland website. 

You can find out more about our work on the programme in the ‘History’ section below.

Our team

The Demsoc Scotland Team, Annie and Kelly, are based in Edinburgh – and are available to talk to you immediately about your digital PB process.



Since 2015, we have worked from Shetland to the Borders to bring digital elements to participatory budgeting processes. By adding ways for people to get involved online as well as offline, through more traditional engagement activities, it’s possible to open up access to those who may not otherwise be able to take part.

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.

We have found that using digital tools allows you to:

    • Involve more local people in decision making;
    • Publicly demonstrate collaboration and partnership work;
    • Enable all areas of a community to participate by overcoming barriers of place and time;
    • Gather evidence and data about engagement work;
    • Learn new digital skills.

Read our case studies to find out how digital tools have enhanced PB processes in 2016-17:

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

The programme is informed by research, workshops and discussions with 18 councils working on PB around Scotland. We released our first report in February 2016 and we’re planning to undertake further research in the future. Read about the research that informs the programme:

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.

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