As so often, a great post from Matthew Taylor with his key points about effective consultation, which I paraphrase as:
- Public opinion is inconsistent and often contradictory
- Debates are often dominated by special interest groups, which by definition focus on the area of public spending/cuts that affects them
- Consultation is very different from engagement or deliberation with the public.
Taylor then rightly notes Participatory Budgeting as a good example of policy making, where people have been brought up to speed on the numbers and the policy issues involved in a given issue and then participate in making decisions. I’ve noted something similar here before, though doubt its widespread use in the upcoming spending decisions.
Also, it’s worth noting the perspective of a senior local government type I was talking to about PB, as participatory budgeting is known:
It’s all very well, but there won’t be any Bs to P in.