A think-tank paper examined the contemporary role of United Kingdom local government, in the context of austerity and the coalition government's policy towards local government services. It said that councils were responding creatively to local challenges and that they had an ongoing role in addressing issues such as poverty and inequality, and in enhancing social solidarity. It made recommendations for increased powers and resourcing, and for local authorities to be permitted to use procurement practices to secure improvements in low pay.
Source: James Murray, The Role of Local Government in a Modern State, Centre for Labour and Social Studies
A study examined opinion and perceptions of the risk landscape facing local government as they made policy and spending decisions in response to the reductions in budgets under austerity. The study looked at key issues from three perspectives: chief executives and board level directors within local government; risk managers; and the general public.
Source: New World of Risk: Change for good, Zurich Municipal
An article examined the persistence and resilience of the form of local government in England.
Source: Peter John, 'The great survivor: the persistence and resilience of English local government', Local Government Studies, Volume 40 Issue 5
A report examined the use of technology and digital tools in local government services, and approaches to improve and develop services.
Source: Transforming Local Public Services: Using technology and digital tools and approaches, Local Government Association
A report examined the early work of the Troubled Families programme, describing the families who entered the programme up to December 2013 and examining the type of presenting issues. Noting caveats regarding the nature of the data, the report discussed the implications of the findings and how local authorities were changing the way they worked with families.
Source: Understanding Troubled Families, Department for Communities and Local Government
The government began consultation on proposed changes to the legislation relating to the formation by local authorities of combined authorities and economic prosperity boards. The consultation would close on 24 June 2014.
Source: Proposal to Amend Legislation Relating to Combined Authorities and Economic Prosperity Boards, Department for Communities and Local Government
Links: Consultation document
A think-tank report examined the potential future role for the Post Office in partnering with local government to provide, through its network of United Kingdom outlets, front office services that were traditionally delivered by local authority offices, such as applications, enquiries and payments. The report made recommendations for the development of a joint business case and for further research.
Source: Tom Frostick and Toby Fenwick, The Post Office: A front office for local government, CentreForum
An article examined the role played by new forms of internet-based communication in English local authorities, and their potential to enhance local participation and reinvigorate the local public sphere. It said that online platforms could encourage forms of participation that would bridge the divide that had emerged in recent years between residents as consumers of local services and residents as citizens, or local democratic actors.
Source: Nick Ellison and Michael Hardey, 'Social media and local government: citizenship, consumption and democracy', Local Government Studies, Volume 40 Issue 1
A think-tank published a collection of essays from national and local Labour party politicians on localism in England. The essays outlined a range of ideas for a shift of powers from central to local government.
Source: Labour and Localism: Perspectives on a new English deal, Smith Institute
The Williams Commission published its report on the governance and delivery of public services in Wales. The Commission had been asked to examine all aspects of public services in Wales and make recommendations on their future direction. The report made over 60 recommendations, including: to remove duplication and ensure that organizations worked together effectively, with shared services and greater collaboration; to reduce the number of local authorities; to strengthen governance and scrutiny; greater citizen and community involvement in design and delivery of services; and to strengthen leadership.
Source: Full Report, Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery
A report examined existing evidence on community and town councils in Wales, with the aim of developing an up-to-date and comprehensive understanding of the sector. It noted a range of strengths and weaknesses, and said that while much work had been done on strengthening the structural and legislative framework, there were a number of barriers to further progress. The review was intended to inform future policy development, as well as the work of the Commission on Public Service Governance and Delivery.
Source: Michael Woods, Developing a Comprehensive Understanding of Community and Town Councils in Wales: Evidence review for the Welsh government, Social research report 6/14, Welsh Government
An article examined the experience of partnerships as a form of local governance in times of austerity. It examined evidence from a range of partnerships, including Local Strategic Partnerships, their constituent 'blocks', and New Deal for Communities partnerships.
Source: Nicola Headlam and Mike Rowe, 'The end of the affair: abusive partnerships in austerity', Journal of Urban Regeneration and Renewal, Volume 7 Number 2
A special issue of a journal examined localism, and presented a range of conceptually-informed research from the United Kingdom and Australia.
Source: Policy Studies, Volume 34 Number 5-6
Links: Table of contents