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Participatory budgeting for a rights based approach to recovery

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Hi everyone, my name is Ellie Craig. I am the MSYP for Glasgow Cathcart and the Deputy Convener of the Education and Life-long Learning Committee. Recently I have been working with the Scottish Government and PB Scotland, representing young people in the production of a Framework for the future of Participatory Budgeting in Scotland.

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is an inclusive way for local communities to decide how they want to spend public funds. It began in Brazil in 1989 and has since been used in many countries around the world. As today is another SYP Bounce Back action day, I will be discussing how PB is a useful tool for the rights-based recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Involving young people in decisions around how budgets are spent is important as it shows them that their voice matters and allows them to have a say in decisions which affect them. This is more important now than ever with the incorporation of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child into Scots law, specifically article 12. When young people are involved in Participatory Budgeting processes it empowers them to use their voice in other meaningful ways and helps to build useful life skills.

This is particularly important in the Covid-19 recovery as young people have already missed out on crucial opportunities to build social and life skills. Participatory Budgeting has the power to bring communities together which is necessary in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic when different budgets are being cut and moved around. It is a democratic tool, which can ensure young people not only have a seat at the table but are being listened to.

It’s not just me who thinks this. In fact, when we asked young people whether they thought that ‘Young people should be able to contribute to the development of the school curriculum and school budgetary decisions’ in our 2021-26 From Scotlands Young People manifesto consultation, over 75% agreed that they should [1].

Being involved in the Scottish Government’s discussions around a framework for Participatory Budgeting, which included looking at bringing the process into schools, showed me that we are making good progress towards respecting young people’s right to have a say in decisions that affect us. During the meetings, I felt not only that I was being heard, but that my voice was appreciated at a high strategic level and any comments I made were taken on board. This work is a really good example of how we should continue to meaningfully consult young people in decisions and embrace the incorporation of the UNCRC as we recover from the pandemic.

If you want to find out more about PB and particularly how important it is for young people you can visit https://pbscotland.scot.

[1] https://syp.org.uk/our-work/manifesto-2021/education-and-lifelong-learning/

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