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Democracy Pays

The U.K.-based Democratic Society produced a white paper in association with Public-i Ltd., on how democratic engagement can help local government save money in a time of cuts.

Executive summary:

This is a time of fiscal pressure and service cuts. Councils are restructuring services and looking to cut back on non-essential areas of spending. Is democratic engagement one of those areas? Aside from the moral argument for democratic engagement, there is evidence that investment in strong democratic participation is important if reformed local government approaches are to result in more efficient spending and better-targeted services. The evidence of self-directed support and personalised budgets shows that involving citizens and users in service provision can produce better-tailored services that operate at lower overall cost. Where councils need to cut expenditure, high-quality democratic engagement in the budget setting process can provide them with better information, while increasing participants’ opinion of the council. In countries with a tradition of more participatory democracy, higher levels of participatory democracy correlate with more efficient services and greater willingness to pay tax. Creating a single architecture for public consultation and engagement can also reduce the cost of duplication in consultation exercises. If they can create an attractive offer on democratic engagement, councils should be able to realise benefits, because there is a large untapped market of people who want to get engaged in their local area, as well as broader reach and range for online democratic engagement tools.
Resource Link: www.demsoc.org/democracy-pays-white-paper-how-digital-engagement-can-save-councils-money/ Direct Download: http://www.demsoc.org/static/Financial-Case-white-paper.pdf

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