The Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP)

Trialling the involvement of citizens in decision-making at local government level through innovative models of deliberative democracy.

Applies to England



The Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP) trialled the involvement of citizens in decision-making at local government level through innovative models of deliberative democracy. We supported three local authorities to open up a key policy decision to their residents through citizens’ assemblies.

IiDP was jointly delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government. The programme ran from November 2018 to March 2020.

People are most likely to engage where they see the everyday impact of the decisions that are made, and feel they can make a difference by being involved. We supported the participating local authorities (LAs) to pilot citizens’ assemblies, which allowed the LAs to convene a randomly selected but representative group of residents, who were given wide-ranging information and time to deliberate, weigh up options, reach consensus, and make recommendations on a difficult issue that would usually be made by the local authority.

This led to people having a real impact on local policy development and delivery. The face-to-face participation was complemented by digital platforms to increase reach, accountability and transparency of the process.

Following an Expression of Interest process, the following local authorities took part in the Innovation in Democracy Programme. They selected a topic which was important both to the council and to their residents:

  • Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council - What can communities and the Council do together to make Dudley and Brierley Hill town centres places that are vibrant, welcoming, and somewhere we are proud of?
  • Greater Cambridgeshire Partnership (Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council) - How do we reduce congestion, improve air quality and provide better public transport in Greater Cambridge?
  • Test Valley Borough Council - How do we improve the area around Crosfield Hall and the Bus Station to deliver the maximum benefit to Romsey?

Each participating area was given support from the Democracy Support Contractor Consortium made up of Involve, The Democratic Society, the RSA and mySociety, as well as up to £60,000 to cover the costs of implementing the citizens’ assemblies and online engagement. The programme was independently evaluated by Renaisi.

As part of our commitment to sharing learning from IiDP, we have produced a suite of resources for local authorities and others who are interested in new forms of citizen participation and practical use of deliberative democracy:

  • How to run a citizens’ assembly - a handbook for local authorities
  • Innovation in Democracy case studies by the participating local authorities

We also produced a film documenting the experience of Innovation in Democracy citizens’ assembly participants. You can watch the film here.

For further details on the information provided to local authorities on how to submit their Expression of Interest to take part in the Innovation in Democracy Programme, and FAQs, please click here.

Introductory workshops to introduce the Innovation in Democracy Programme to local authorities were held in November 2018. All the materials used in the workshops to help local authorities prepare their EoI to join the programme and to run workshops on the programme in their own LA can be found here.

Published 30 May 2019
Last updated 24 January 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added detail on work undertaken with Local Authorities.

  2. First published.