SRA have frequently designed, organised and facilitated consultations for local authorities with residents in their area. These have included citizens’ panels, citizens’ juries, workshops and discussion groups on a variety of subjects including strategic plans for housing, licensing policy and area committees.
However, a central theme in this strand of work has been budget consultation for local authorities. Public involvement in this area is crucial to ensure that changes to budget allocations are acceptable to the general public and that popular services remain operative.
It is important that participants are presented with an accurate representation of the actual budget in order to ensure that their recommendations are feasible. Materials are therefore produced in consultation with the local authority in order to ensure that the figures match the actual Council budget, and that non-discretionary items are clearly identified.
Examples of work in this area include:
Budget consultations in Oxford, which comprised a Citizen’ Jury, Citizens’ Panel survey and staff consultation with 10% of the workforce.
In Leicester SRA ran a series of workshops to discuss Council budgets with young people, businesses and the general public.
In these cases and others SRA have developed a series of exercises to allow residents to produce alternative budgets, prioritise particular services and recommend cost savings.