What does the standard say?
Assembly members are reimbursed for all reasonable expenses
A gift of at least £50 per day is given to assembly members
The accessibility requirements of assembly members are met on request
Carers of assembly members are welcomed and provided for
There is a ratio of max 9 assembly members per group facilitator
Presentations by witnesses are accessible, avoiding jargon and not assuming prior knowledge
A gift of at least £75 per day is given to assembly members
Information / materials are provided in a range of different formats
The care costs of any assembly members are reimbursed and/or caring facilities are provided onsite (e.g. a creche)
The accessibility requirements of assembly members are anticipated and met
There is a ratio of max 7 assembly members per group facilitator
How do you ensure that the assembly is accessible?
It is important that a citizens' assembly is accessible to any potential assembly member. This is factored in a number of ways.
The costs of members attending the assembly are covered in full, including providing travel, accommodation (if required) and meals. In addition, assembly members are provided with an honorarium of £150 per weekend in order to encourage and support their participation.
This both recognises the time that assembly members are giving up to take part and ensures that a diverse range of participants (e.g. including those on low-incomes, unemployed, with caring responsibilities, etc.) can participate.
The venue for the assembly should be fully accessible (lifts, ramps, hearing loops) and all accessibility requirements of assembly members are taken into account. This includes, where needed, providing materials in Braille or large print and sign language interpretation.
The costs of carers, respite care and child care should also be covered where needed.
The assembly proceedings are carefully designed to enable the full participation of all members. Small group work ensures that all participants are able to contribute and have time to reflect and develop their own opinions, particularly those less confident speaking in groups. The exercises and techniques that are used are specifically designed to support assembly members to engage with complex information and feel able to put their opinion forward, with no prior knowledge needed.
Are participants paid to attend the assembly?
Citizens’ assemblies can be relatively intense processes. As noted above, the bare minimum of time most will take is four days over two weekends and many take much longer. Assembly members must be able to commit to take for the full length of time of the assembly. This can be difficult for assembly members who may have to take annual leave to take part, or who have caring responsibilities for example.
As a result, assembly members have all travel and accommodation costs covered as part of their role. In addition, they are provided with a gift to thank them for taking part. This is normally at least £75/ day of the assembly and is often either given at the end of the process, or split up and paid in chunks over the course of the assembly.
There is no definitive guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions on whether payments or vouchers will affect those assembly members who are on benefits. It is usual therefore to flag this to participants and explore options with them such as providing the gift as vouchers (though this may still mean benefits are affected). Food, drink, accommodation and travel expenses do not affect benefits and can be paid.