Six main benefits of participatory budgeting
1. Democracy. Ordinary people have a real say- and they get to make real political decisions. Politicians build closer relationships with their constituents, and community members develop greater trust in government.
2. Transparency. Budgets are policy without the rhetoric-what a government actually does. When community members decide spending through a public vote, there are fewer opportunities for corruption, waste, or costly backlash.
3. Education. Participants become more active and informed citizens. Community members, staff, and officials learn democracy by doing it. They gain a deeper understanding of complex political issues and community needs.
4. Efficiency. Budget decisions are better when they draw on citizens’ local knowledge and oversight. As John Dewey said, “The man who wears the shoe knows best where it pinches.” Once they are invested in the process, people make sure that dollars are spent wisely.
5. Social justice. Every citizen gets equal access to decision making, which levels the playing field. Traditionally underrepresented groups tend to participate more than usual in participatory budgeting, which helps direct resources to communities with the greatest needs.
6. Community. Through regular meetings and assemblies, people get to know their neighbours and feel more connected to their area. Local organisations spend less time lobbying and more time deciding policies. Budget assemblies connect community groups and help them recruit members.