New forms of local democracy

By international standards, political control in England is highly centralised. Governments of different types have attempted to create new forms of sub-national democracy and to decentralise power for the past two decades. All parties today are committed to various forms of decentralisation.

At the Institute for Government we are interested not only in decentralisation - the transfer of power from higher to lower levels of aggregation - but also how the effectiveness and accountability of sub-national tiers of government can be improved.

This programme explores:

  • the ways in which political power, control and accountability can be redistributed and enhanced
  • the impact of local and regional governance arrangements on government effectiveness, including in policy areas such as economic growth

The routes to more effective relationships between central government and its sub-national counterparts, and to more effective collaborations at local and regional levels.

A strategy for decentralisation in England

Recent governments of both left and right have attempted to decentralise power in the UK. But while huge changes have occurred – particularly in Scotland, Wales and London - progress in the rest of England has been limited.

In our Strategy for Decentralisation in England  we try to explain why it is that attempts to empower sub-national government in England have had such mixed results. Based on this work, we’ll be publishing our conclusions about the ingredients of sustainable decentralisation later this year.

Directly elected mayors

The Coalition government focused its early decentralisation efforts on introducing new candidate-centered institutions, including directly-elected mayors and police and crime commissioners. We carried out our research into directly-elected mayors in 2012 to prepare for referendums on mayors in ten cities across England.

Community Budgets and local collaboration

Successive governments have attempted to facilitate more effective relationships between local and regional agencies. We have examined the impact of some of these initiatives, including Community Budgets, and provide suggestions on how more effective collaborations could be developed in future.

Work Programme

The Institute will continue to work with politicians, civil servants and local government officials, and private and voluntary sector providers of public services with the aim of informing public, political and practitioner debates.