Innovation in Democracy Programme

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



The Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP) is trialling the involvement of citizens in decision-making at local government level through innovative models of deliberative democracy. We are supporting three local authorities to open up a key policy decision to citizen deliberation, complemented by online engagement. IiDP is jointly delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government.

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 are supporting the participating local authorities (LAs) to pilot deliberative democracy through Area Democracy Forums. These will allow LAs to convene a randomly selected but representative sample of residents, who are 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 should lead to people having a real impact on local policy development and delivery. The face-to-face participation will be complemented by digital platforms to increase reach, accountability and transparency of the process.

Learning from IiDP will be shared with other local authorities who are interested in new forms of citizen participation and practical use of deliberative democracy.

Following an Expression of Interest process, we will be working with the following local authorities on the Innovation in Democracy Programme:

  • Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council - Future of town centres
  • Greater Cambridge Partnership (Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council) - Improving public transport and tackling congestion
  • Test Valley Borough Council - Future of waste and recycling and / or vitality of town centres

We were impressed by their strong commitment to involve local people in their decision making. This included senior support from their Chief Executives and elected members, commitment of council resources to deliver the Area Democracy Forums, and a willingness to share the learning from the programme with other local authorities.

Each participating area will have support from the Democracy Support Contractor Consortium made up of Involve, The Democratic Society, mySociety and the RSA, as well as up to £60,000 to cover the costs of implementing the Area Democracy Forums and online engagement. The programme is being independently evaluated by Renaisi.

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