19 May 2021, 2-4pm, register here.
There is a deep democratic deficit in local government. The UK is one of the most centralised countries in the world. Turnout in local elections is low. In many councils there is no effective opposition, further weakening accountability. This is coupled with a lack of effective oversight.
Research for Action’s report “Democracy Denied: Audit and accountability failure in local government” has exposed a serious accountability vacuum in local government, where private auditors disempower residents and local authorities act to prevent scrutiny. Our work arises from the tradition of citizen audit, where we create new, democratic notions of accountability, create processes that can facilitate democratic participation and claim ownership over the information we access and produce.
Across the UK as across the world, residents are becoming increasingly engaged with processes that are enhancing democracy and returning power to the people. Exposing spending decisions made behind closed doors could become a thing of the past when residents get to shape council spending from early on.
Participatory Budgeting is about local people making decisions directly over how local public budgets are spent. It can empower citizens, build trust in democracy and drive innovation in public services. It is being practiced all over the world, from Brazil to Scotland and Spain to Northern Ireland.
Citizen Assemblies and Citizen Juries are deliberative processes that can have a central role in developing mandates for politicians to take action. They bring together a randomly selected group of people to listen, learn, discuss and work together to create solutions.
Join us to hear more about these local democracy tools and discuss how we can use them to create real accountability from the bottom up.
Jez Hall, Director of Shared Future CIC
Jez has over 25 years of experience facilitating deliberative and participatory democracy processes and delivering research and policy work. A founding director of the social enterprise Shared Future CIC, he specialises in participatory budgeting, co-production and social enterprise. He has written many guides and research papers on what might be called ‘practical democracy’ which is about how people can get involved and exert democratic influence beyond elections. He coordinates the UK PB network website.