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Participatory budgeting in Wigan

This case study reports on how Wigan Encompass used Participatory Budgeting principles to distribute £20,000 to members of the network. The Community Networks in Wigan, including Encompass, were eligible to bid for funds from the £20,000 allocation made by the LSP to support the Networks in an interim period until next April 2009.


The members of Ascend (Association for Social, Community and Environmental Network Development), a forum that gives voice, support and capacity building opportunities to individuals, groups and organisations throughout the borough heard presentations from network members at a meeting held on the 26th November 2008. Participants were able to vote on the quality of the presentations by the Community Networks.

Despite short timescales the event was successfully able to agree the relevant amounts each network would receive, using at its heart a voting matrix and agenda developed in conjunction with the PB Unit. It is hoped that it will encourage Wigan LSP to support the idea of a participatory method of distributing funds in this case and hopefully in other situations.




To distribute £20,000 allocated to support community networks by the LSP until April 2009.


Wigan Town Hall (decision event) to support members of Encompass working across the Borough


Some of us from Encompass had been to a PB event at Urban Forum and were hooked on the idea.  At an initial meeting of Encompass members and the PB Unit we discussed options for how to distribute the £20,000 available from the LSP, and agreed to use a PB presentation method. Joe Taylor liaised with Jez Hall and members of the network to agree a process for making 3 minute presentations and we developed a simple matrix to convert the scoring into percentage allocations.
We held an evening time decision event at Wigan town hall where around 25-30 stakeholders to the network from ASCEND and Encompass could hear presentations from the 6 networks seeking support. Using a score out of 10 against some easily understood criteria we successfully allocated our resources.
In two cases members of the network then volunteered to donate part of their resources to others to allow the most effective use of the resources collectively available to them. This was an opportunity for the network to demonstrate a mature degree of partnership working and show regard for the interests of all its members.
Final allocations were:               

Wigan Borough Heritage Network £2000
Over 50’s £3296
Wigan & Leigh Disability Forum
Borough Wide Community Network £3464
 World in Wigan


The community sector, supportive council officers and reps from other arm’s length organisations (LINk and Social Housing) are all stakeholders to Encompass. The Ascend Network was a convenient forum for to trial PB locally, and strengthen the newly formed Encompass organisation.

ENCOMPASS is the Wigan Community Network's strategic body (and the local successor to the Community Empowerment Network.) Five of its members represent the community on the Local Strategic Partnership and one of it's members is the acting chair of Urban Forum.

The LSP was fully aware of how the work was planned and delivered through their officers who work closely with members of Encompass.


The process informed and involved members of the ASCEND network about how the money was to be spent. The project was planned and delivered in a very short timescale. All feedback has been very positive. It gave all concerned, including previous doubters, faith in the process.  It cut out the need to disappoint people with a non-transparent panel of judges.  This was a first in Wigan and it should pave the way for larger events.  It will be reviewed by the LSP (four members were present on the evening).


Joe Taylor
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Participatory Budgeting Unit
through our Manchester Office.

Participatory Budgeting Unit
C/o Church Action on Poverty
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