Local Government Improvement in England: Policies, Progress and Prospects

Steve Martin


Whilst many countries have been devolving power to the sub-national level England has moved in the opposite direction. For the last decade English local government has been subjected to tight top down performance monitoring and financial controls. The evidence suggests that these policies have helped to encourage significant improvements in performance. However critics argue that they have been costly to implement and have undermined local democratic accountability. In response to these concerns the current government has promised to sweep away external assessment in favour of self-regulation by councils and in-depth scrutiny by citizens. This ‘new localism’ poses important questions for both policy makers and researchers. In particular how far will the promised reforms actually go and what impacts will they have on the service standards?

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