Cash-strapped Perth and Kinross Council needs to shave £10 million from its budget and is asking for residents’ help on where the axe should fall.
A budget allocation survey has been set up by the council, inviting people to decide where savings could be made and by how much, or if any cuts should be made at all.
The specially-designed Budget Allocator website, run by not-for-profit company Bang the Table, has gone online giving people the option to decide where spending should be reduced.
Participants are given a choice of maintaining current spending, or cutting investment in particular council departments by 1, 3 or 5%.
The survey splits the total council budget into 12 separate “key service areas” – including children and families services, education, and planning, regeneration and enterprise.
Current budget spending levels are highlighted, for example £132.3 million is allocated from the council’s budget for education, early years and schools.
If a participant chooses to reduce this budget by one percent, £1.32 million would be cut. The allocator adds all of the spending cuts made over the course of the survey to see whether the sum of the budget reductions made equals £10 million.
Those surveyed can also include ideas on how the council could go about raising revenue, or give specific detail on where they would like to see money trimmed.
Leader of Perth and Kinross Council, councillor Ian Miller, said “very difficult” decisions were going to have to be made in next year’s budget.
He said: “I think it is the right thing to do to ask the public where their priorities are. At this stage we do not have the final figures from the Scottish Government but I think very difficult decisions will need to be made.
“The budget process will be extremely difficult this year, I have no doubt about that, we have been working since August on what to do.”
Participatory budgeting originated in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre in the 1980’s.
Budget Allocator highlights the worldwide appeal of participatory budgeting, and notes it is a process utilised by local authorities in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia as a method for determining budget priorities.
The Scottish Government said they fully support participatory budgeting as a tool for “community engagement”, and have invested over £500,000 in varying schemes for different local authorities since January 2016.
Perth and Kinross Council received £10,000 from the Scottish Government to implement their participatory budget scheme.