Socialising Councillor Locality Budgets

This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but I’m not aware nor can I seem to find any examples of, councillor budgets being proactively published but also socialised in that people can request or suggest ideas locally for consideration and social voting.  I can find information on how much money has been allocated by councils but not exactly what the money has been spent on and more importantly what social value or social return on investment has been achieved.

I guess on a basic level you would just connect the process to the Simpl product or something similar which allows people to suggest ideas, request resources etc.

This area seems like a great opportunity and starting point as these budgets are not about funding services but are about contributing to local projects…

In Devon certain principles have been agreed by the Council to guide the use of locality budgets and to ensure financial probity, value for money and accountability, which are;

  • The project or activity not being able to be easily funded from another source (the principle of “investor of last resort”).
  • Consistency with the council’s current policies.
  • Evidence of value for money (perhaps measured in part by match-funding leverage secured).
  • Appropriate levels of auditing and accounting are in place
  • The extent to which the investment encourages or triggers partnership working
  • Enabling a wide range of organisations to be able to apply for funds
The current publicity for the funds and the projects is guided by our policy which is currently:

Following every County Committee meeting, the Council’s press office will issue a list of grants which have been made and bring this to the attention of local media. Local groups and Councillors are of course free to seek their own publicity.

For me and I’m speaking in a personal capacity here, this is a wasted opportunity…simply stating we will issue a “press release” and local media are welcome to take these up is an easy way out….This is public money and councillors should be pro-actively seeking to promote the projects and impact they have had with their budgets…after all these are the kinds of things on the ground which could actually help people get re-elected, simple things like new swings in a park, flood lights at a skate park…these are local issues that I’d like to see addressed in my community.
I’d be interested to hear from any council or anyone who has actually socialised or pro-actively published the budget available, spending so far and what is remaining, as well as the impact of that money.

 

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