How To Run A Citizens' Assembly: Handbook

Created as part of the Innovation in Democracy Programme.

This handbook was developed as part of the UK Government's 'Innovation in Democracy Programme'.

What is the Innovation in Democracy Programme?

The Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP) – established by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government (MHCLG) – was an innovative experiment which challenged us to support local authorities to tackle a complex, local issue in a different way; we tested using a deliberative democracy process within a local government environment to change the way communities are involved in sharing and shaping decision-making. We think it’s fair to say it worked, but with lots of learning for all involved.

The programme’s aims were to:

  • increase the opportunities for local people to have a greater say over decisions that affect their communities and their everyday lives;
  • encourage new relationships and build trust between citizens and local authorities; and
  • strengthen local civil society by encouraging participation in local institutions.

Involve, Democratic Society, mySociety and the RSA worked from March 2019 to March 2020 with three local authorities – Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council; Greater Cambridge Partnership; and Test Valley Borough Council – to involve residents in decision-making. We did this through piloting citizens’ assemblies. We were asked to support the local authorities in the following ways:

  • design, facilitate and report on their citizens' assembly;
  • develop a digital strategy to extend the reach, transparency, and accountability of the process; and
  • collect and share the local authority’s learning within and beyond their authority.

This video gives a unique insight into the citizens’ assembly process from the perspective of three participants from each of the areas.

The handbook provides practical insight into what is involved in running a Citizens' Assembly - from inception to receiving recommendations from citizens.

Read the handbook

We do not support Internet Explorer. Please use a modern browser for a better experience.