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Local government: the past, the present and the future

Jones, George and Stewart, John (2012) Local government: the past, the present and the future. Public Policy and Administration, 27 (4). pp. 346-367. ISSN 0952-0767

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0952076712439979


Local government has faced critical issues since the 1970s. The case is made for local government as the government of local communities. Local government is presented as the government of difference, both responding to and creating differences between areas. The government of difference enhances the learning capacity of the system of government, a function not fully appreciated by central government. The role of local government has been weakened by the policies of successive governments. There has been a failure to recognise the need to strengthen local representative democracy. An almost continuous process of reorganisation has fragmented community government. These issues have arisen from a fundamentally defective relationship between local and central government. The government's approach fails to recognize that the main barriers to the development of localism lie in central government. Centralism remains dominant in the Localism Act and in Whitehall departments, even the Department for Communities and Local Government. The government has failed to provide a financing system for local government that sustains localism: local authorities continue to be dependent on government grants. The way ahead is to change the culture of central government through a code on central-local government relations coordinated across all departments by a unit in the Cabinet Office and monitored by a joint committee of parliament; a genuine Localism Act; and a financial system in which local authorities draw most of their revenue from their own voters with taxes whose rates they determine.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2012 The Authors
Divisions: Government
Public Policy Group
Subjects: J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Sets: Departments > Government
Research centres and groups > LSE Public Policy Group
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2012 10:55
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2020 01:39

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