The Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP) was created in 2019 to support local authorities in using deliberative democracy – through citizens’ assemblies and associated methods – to shape decision-making and policy creation. Here, five of the key figures involved in creating and operating the IiDP outline the methods, challenges and outcomes of a programme that had to adapt and adjust to both an early general election and the COVID-19 crisis.
What is the Innovation in Democracy Programme?
The Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP) – established by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) – was an innovative experiment which challenged us to support local authorities to tackle a complex, local issue in a different way; we tested using a deliberative democracy process within a local government environment to change the way communities are involved in sharing and shaping decision-making. We think it’s fair to say it worked, but with lots of learning for all involved.
The programme’s aims were to:
- increase the opportunities for local people to have a greater say over decisions that affect their communities and their everyday lives;
- encourage new relationships and build trust between citizens and local authorities;
- strengthen local civil society by encouraging participation in local institutions.
Involve, Democratic Society, mySociety and the RSA worked from March 2019 to March 2020 with three local authorities – Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council; Greater Cambridge Partnership; and Test Valley Borough Council – to involve residents in decision-making. We did this through piloting citizens’ assemblies. We were asked to support the local authorities in the following ways:
- design, facilitate and report on their citizens’ assembly;
- develop a digital strategy to extend the reach, transparency, and accountability of the process; and,
- collect and share the local authority’s learning within and beyond their authority.