Addressing the balance of power

This project is about how to begin to pass power from central to local government, and about how local government can begin to have a stronger voice in national politics. Over successive generations, England and Wales have become increasingly centralised, with people looking in central government to solve issues facing society. With no constitutional protection, little local financial control and little representation in parliament, we need to look at ways to address the culture problem and shift real power to local government and local people.   

Localis at the Conservative party conference
[False, Sep 30, 2015]
Localis will be hosting several events at Conservative party conference this year

Localis at the Labour party conference
[False, Sep 28, 2015]
Localis will be hosting several events at Labour party conference this year

Localis at the 2015 party conferences
[False, Sep 15, 2015]
Localis will be hosting several events at Labour and Conservative party conferences this year

Certified organic: Are garden cities the localist answer to the housing crisis?
[False, Oct 7, 2014]
With Rt Hon Vince Cable MP, Caroline Pidgeon MBE, Cllr Keith House and Duncan Bonfield.

Localis Conference Events 2014
[False, Oct 7, 2014]
Localis were at all three major party conferences, featuring events with Secretaries of State, Ministers and Shadow Ministers

Fixing the housing crisis: are garden cities the answer?
[False, Sep 29, 2014]
With Mark Pawsey, Cllr Paul Carter and Duncan Bonfield.

Does the South East deserve Devo Max?
[False, Sep 29, 2014]
With Rt Hon John Redwood MP, Bob Neill MP, Cllr Mike Jones, Cllr Roy Perry and Cllr David Burbage MBE.

Does the South East deserve Devo Max?
[False, Sep 22, 2014]
John Denham, Clive Betts and colleagues spoke at our Labour Conference event on Devo Max

Alex Thomson quoted in The MJ
[False, Sep 9, 2014]
Localis' Chief Executive, Alex Thomson, is quoted in The MJ's recent piece on the consequences of Scottish devolution for England's regions.

To bid or not to bid: calculating the costs of competitive funding processes
[False, Jul 3, 2014]
Localis produced a piece of research for the LGA on the impact of a competitive funding approaches.

PluggedIN - Alex Thomson
[False, Oct 15, 2013]
The pace of change in local government is beginning to increase rapidly. Most dramatically, there is strong support for a quantum shift towards real localism.

Power to the People - Should localism be the core of the 2015 manifesto?
[False, Oct 1, 2013]
Localis was excited to host a panel speaking event at the Conservative Party Conference on the role of Localism in the next general election.

Local Opportunity, National Benefit
[False, Oct 29, 2012]
In the Bruce-Lockhart Lecture 2012, former Leader of the Conservative Party and Home Secretary Lord Michael Howard sets out his vision for the opporunities on offer for local leaders and the benefit to the nation if they take them.

Winning the Peace
[, Jul 26, 2011]
In the inaugural Bruce-Lockhart lecture, Minister for Decentralisation Greg Clark considers the message the Government will take to the country in 2015. Recognising the immediate and overriding need to restore economic stability, Greg Clark draws on the inspiration of Lord Sandy Bruce-Lockhart to lo

Time for a Ceasefire in Central-Local Relations
[, Mar 10, 2011]
Local Government Chronicle argues that the current state of fractious central-local relations must improve to benefit both sides

Localis's Reaction to the Localism Bill
[, Dec 14, 2010]
The Localism Bill represents a massive leap forward in the Government's plan to transfer power away from the centre to councils and beyond, although the local government finance settlement has dealt a difficult hand to local authorities

Liberal Democrat Conference: Is Localism Dead or Alive?
[, Sep 21, 2010]
A panel debate with Stephen Gilbert MP, Cllr John Shipley, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Peter Couchman

It's time to turn rhetoric into reform
[, May 27, 2010]
A change of government offers huge opportunities for things to be done radically differently. There have been some positive steps outlined by the coalition but there remain important challenges that the new government must address, not least the huge financial pressures that local government must ge

The Future of Localism
[, Apr 29, 2010]
This a note following a roundtable discussion hosted by Localis and Bracknell Forest Council considering the current localist foundations in the UK and how these can be built upon in the future. Paul Bettison, Leader of Bracknell Forest introduced and concluded the session, with a wide ranging discu

Key questions facing local government
[, Apr 20, 2010]
Our political system is in need of large-scale systemic reform. For decades successive governments have pursued an approach to policy making which has centralised power and decision making to the detriment of local people, communities, local government and public services

Making Localism Work
[, Feb 24, 2010]
Hosted by: Localis & Bell Pottinger. Venue: Bell Pottinger, Holborn. Date & Time: 6.00pm Wednesday 24th February. With Bob Neill MP

Hold the celebration
[, Oct 8, 2009]
Malcolm Prowle rightly calls for an end to ‘top-down command and control techniques’ via an empowered local government. This would enable Whitehall to harness the innovation and efficiency of town halls.

Cameron talks the local talk, but...
[, Sep 15, 2009]
As London goes, so goes the nation. Or so David Cameron claims in suggesting that he will take a lead in government from London's high-flying Tory councils. Does he mean it?

Tipping the Balance
[, Sep 2, 2009]
In this edition of Policy Platform we have articles from: Cllr Paul Bettison from Bracknell Forest Borough Council, Cllr Margaret Eaton from the Local Government Association and Neil McInroy from the Centre for Local Economic Strategies on the topic of how local government should be represented in n

Give power to the people, not celebs
[, Jun 11, 2009]
Translating all the localism rhetoric into real devolution of powers and responsibilities, and the extension of democratic accountability, is the only route to delivering greater value for money across the public sector

Local Government Response to the Budget 2009
[, May 21, 2009]
Findings include - 60% of District Councils think that efficiency savings are not possible; 78% of respondents think that the Budget was bad for local government; and Only 35% think that statutory city regions are a good idea.

Finding the right level
[, Mar 2, 2009]
James Morris discusses the recent Conservative green paper - 'Control shift' in a comment piece published in Whitehall & Westminster World

With a Little Help From Our Friends
[False, Feb 19, 2009]
A review of our report on international local government, by Andrew Stevens of

Call for sector's status to be raised in national politics
[, Feb 4, 2009]
The MJ comments on our report, 'With a little help from our friends'

Call for sector's status to be raised in national politics
[False, Feb 4, 2009]
The MJ comments on our report, 'With a little help from our friends'

English councils worried by lack of representation
[, Feb 2, 2009]
ILM comments on our report, 'With a little help from our friends'

English councils worried by lack of representation
[False, Feb 2, 2009]
ILM comments on our report, 'With a little help from our friends'

PM pledges freedom for councils as think tank report calls for reforms
[False, Jan 30, 2009]
Public Net comments on our report, 'With a little help from our friends'

With a Little Help From Our Friends
[False, Jan 29, 2009]
LGA comments on our report, 'With a little help from our friends'

Press release: International Lessons for Local Government
[False, Jan 28, 2009]
Local government should have a key place at the national political table and have its role protected by law, according to a new report published today by Localis

Local thoughts from abroad
[False, Jan 28, 2009]
Press coverage of With a Little Help From Our Friends

With a Little Help From Our Friends
[False, Jan 28, 2009]
What can English local government learn from around the world. This event explains how other countries operate and the lessons that can be learnt.

With a Little Help From Our Friends
[False, Jan 28, 2009]
This report compares the English central-local balance with that in a number of European and Commonwealth countries. It examines issues ranging from finance and performance management to constitutional protection.

Guardian - Public - Pamphlets - Conservatives
[, Nov 1, 2008]
Localis's pamphlet Big Ideas looks at the argument from the other side of the fence, with Tory council leaders looking at how ideas such as Right to Buy 2 are helping shape Conservative thinking

Economic prosperity
[, Oct 1, 2008]
Localis contributes to the latest edition of the Solace magazine entitled 'Prosperity, People and Place', and argues that a radical change in the local-central funding relationship is needed if Councils are to have any lasting effect on regeneration schemes.

Local policies for local people
[, Sep 29, 2008]
Shadow Local Government Minister Bob Neill MP reviews Big Ideas: Building on Conservative Fundamentals published by Localis. Neill backs its call to set Councils free

Help me write a bold Conservative blueprint for local government
[, May 30, 2008]
Stephen Greenhalgh introduces the aims of the new Conservative Council Innovation Unit and its aim to write 'the bible' of best practice for Conservatives in local government.

The gap between rhetoric and reality
[, Apr 28, 2008]
James Morris writes on the relationship between central and local government and the seemingly unstoppable centralising tendency in the British system of government

Success and the City: Learning from International Urban Policies
[False, Mar 23, 2008]
Success and the city: Learning from international urban policies is the second in a series of three reports on urban regeneration policy published by Policy Exchange and Localis.

Central, nervous system: Can localism help Gordon relax?
[False, Jan 1, 2008]
Sir Simon Milton’s inaugural speech as Chairman of the Local Government Association

Two cheers for the concordat
[False, Jun 1, 2007]
In our pamphlet 'Two Cheers for the Concordat' we argue that the Concordat signed between Her Majesty's Government and the LGA represents a positive step towards a constitutional settlement for local government.

Big Bang Localism
[False, Nov 5, 2004]
In a report for Localis and Policy Exchange, Simon Jenkins highlights the kind of radical transformations needed to save British Democracy.

Related Local Government News Articles

New Bill to free councils to be launched
[False, Jul 21, 2014]
A new Bill to give local government freedom from ‘the stranglehold of Whitehall’ will be launched by a backbench MP today.

NAO to investigate Whitehall's understanding of council cuts
[False, May 14, 2014]
The government spending watchdog is to investigate whether Whitehall understands the impact on councils of five years of funding cuts, amid warnings from the sector of a bleak financial future.

Local control of Whitehall spend is next step to fiscal freedom, cities minister tells MPs
[False, Apr 1, 2014]
Local control over billion pounds worth of Whitehall budgets should form the next step to the agenda for fiscal freedom, cities minister Greg Clark has claimed.

Core cities and counties make Budget call for more control
[False, Mar 14, 2014]
England’s largest city economies outside London and the County Councils Network have separately called for more financial powers.

LGA bemoans lack of local voice in flooding response
[False, Feb 26, 2014]
The Local Government Association (LGA) believes it should have had greater involvement in Downing Street’s emergency response to the floods.

Leaders unite for devolution campaign
[False, Oct 2, 2013]
As part of a series of devolution demands launched at the Conservative conference, local government leaders have challenged national parties to come up with 2015 manifestos that offer radical devolution.

GP commissioning not accountable, says Burnham
[False, Sep 26, 2013]
The shadow health secretary has said he opposes “GP control or domination of commissioning” because it is not “accountable” and compromises “the public interest”

Cry freedom for local government, MPs report
[False, Jan 29, 2013]
Local government should have its independence from Whitehall control enshrined in law, to deliver a devolution deal for England - a group of MPs has recommended.

Outrage over move to shift planning controls
[False, Oct 17, 2012]
The chairman of an influential Commons committee has slammed government proposals to remove planning powers from struggling councils and hand them to Whitehall, without the right of appeal.

Pickles tells councils 'be pushy' with Coalition
[False, Jun 29, 2012]
Communities secretary, Eric Pickles, has urged local government to 'be pushy' with Westminster in demanding greater powers to improve residents' lives.

Delayed Localism Bill published
[, Dec 14, 2010]
Local authorities and some town and parish councils are to get a ‘general power of competence’, under plans set out in the delayed Localism Bill.

Localism Bill to be Published Today
[, Dec 13, 2010]
In advance of the long-awaited publication of the Localism Bill, there have been some strong indications as to what to expect from the Bill

Demand for local voice in Whitehall efficiency group
[, May 28, 2010]
Senior local government figures have pledged to act to avert the threat of the sector being sidelined in the debate over how the state will secure future efficiency savings.

Call to give councils greater powers
[, Feb 8, 2010]
Councils should be given stronger powers to hold local service providers to account, the House of Commons has been told. An MP said greater scrutiny would help “drive up standards” for local people.

Leaders push for localist ‘Magna Carta’
[, Jan 7, 2010]
Some of the highest profile Conservative council leaders, including Hammersmith & Fulham LBC’s Stephen Greenhalgh, Westminster City Council’s Colin Barrow and Leicestershire CC’s David Parsons have been involved in drawing up what they bill as a “Magna Carta for localism

Plan to dismantle Whitehall revealed
[, Nov 26, 2009]
Tens of thousands of civil servants may be moved out of London in a dramatic downscaling of Whitehall under Labour plans to cut public debts and instil a culture of "smarter government''.

Westminster's top 10 reform wishlist
[, Nov 23, 2009]
Westminster City Council has called for a set of reforms to give councils powers over everything from police budgets to streetworks. Leader Colin Barrow (Con) said the council faced more than 600 new regulations and 11 pieces of primary legislation every year.

LGA names Britain's worst quangos
[, Nov 13, 2009]
The Equalities & Human Rights Commission and transport watchdog Passenger Focus have been named amongst Britain’s worst quangos by a Local Government Association study.

Bus pass changes anger councils
[, Nov 4, 2009]
An overhaul of the £1bn free bus pass scheme for people over 60 will leave some councils out of pocket, local authorities have warned, after the government ruled out increasing the fares subsidy.

Councils control only 5% of local spending
[, Nov 3, 2009]
The lack of control councils have over public money spent in their area has been laid bare by new research produced by a flagship government efficiency programme.

Councils freed from bylaw hurdle
[, Oct 27, 2009]
Councils will be freed to make or revoke byelaws without government permission, communities and local government secretary John Denham has said. Byelaws would instead to be scrutinised locally before taking effect.

LGA disappointment over assets
[, Oct 12, 2009]
The LGA has said it is disappointed not to have been consulted over a sale of publically-owned assets to be announced by the Prime Minister. Margaret Eaton, chair of the Local Government Association, said the sell-off “could have serious ramifications for the state of (councils’) tightly managed bu

Tories stand firm on localist agenda
[, Oct 8, 2009]
Town halls will need to hold a Conservative government’s ‘feet to the fire’ to ensure it stays true to its localist pledges, the shadow minister for the Cabinet Office has admitted.

Conservatives 'must learn from councils'
[, Sep 10, 2009]
A Conservative government will have much to learn from the way the party runs councils, shadow chancellor George Osborne is expected to say. In a speech to local authorities, he will say councils have dealt well with budget "constraints" similar to those to be faced in Downing Street.

Devolve budgets to local councils
[, Aug 14, 2009]
Simon Jenkins and Tony Travers write: Another shadow chancellor promises to rescue the nation's finances by "a radical reform in delivering public services". A thousand heads hit the breakfast table with a clunk.

Taming the Quango state
[, Aug 12, 2009]
We have seen, in recent years, a significant increase in the number of these bodies which, frankly, have all too often operated out of sight of the scrutinising public eye.

Power to set benefits should be devolved
[, Aug 11, 2009]
Should the government give the green light to proposals sent, the Secretary of State would devolve to Essex CC the power to set eligibility criteria and payment rates for all working-age benefits within the county

Two-tier battle resumes
[, Aug 6, 2009]
Civil servants are preparing a fresh assault on the two-tier system as the crisis in the public finances forces mandarins to seek savings through any possible means

Essex in bid to gain powers
[, Aug 3, 2009]
Essex CC has officially submitted plans to use the Sustainable Communities Act to seize powers from unelected quangos. The proposals will be given to the Local Government Association which will shortlist proposals from councils nationwide and pass a shortlist of frontrunners to the communities secr

Consultation: Strengthening Local Democracy
[, Jul 31, 2009]
This consultation explores whether local government has the powers it needs to meet today's challenges, as part of the Government's drive to renew Britain's democracy and build trust in the political system at all levels. It sets out a range of proposals to promote democratic renewal and strengthen

Roadworks delays could be cut
[, Jul 30, 2009]
Motorists could see delays cut drastically as councils are given powers by the Department for Transport to say when roadworks are carried out. Utility companies are also being targetted in the plans.

Denham’s ‘transfer of power’ disappoints
[, Jul 23, 2009]
Local government leaders have criticised proposals to expand councils’ scrutiny role as ‘lacking ambition’.The plans were part of a wider reform package put out for consultation on July 21 by Communities Secretary John Denham.

School quango bullying local authorities
[, Jul 12, 2009]
The quango running the government's £55bn programme to rebuild schools has been accused of "bullying" local authorities with threats to withdraw their funding in a damning new report released ahead of an official announcement on the scheme this week.

Miliband admits devolution failure
[, Jul 7, 2009]
Former local government minister David Miliband, giving the John Smith Memorial Lecture said that the government has not done enough to transfer powers to local government.

LGA calls for greater local control
[, Jun 29, 2009]
The Local Government Association is calling for a major programme of reform to give voters more local control over key public services. A manifesto has been published ahead of the LGA annual conference in Harrogate this week.

Denham proposes giving councils power
[, Jun 17, 2009]
A legally enforceable charter giving local councils powers to prevent unwarranted interference by central government is to be proposed by the communities secretary, John Denham.

Scotland 'should levy its own income tax'
[, Jun 16, 2009]
The Scottish Parliament should be given sweeping new powers to levy income tax in an effort to make it far more accountable to its electors, a major review of devolution concluded yesterday.

Bring back local government
[, Jun 12, 2009]
The first task for Gordon Brown and his new constitutional reform team is to put the 'local' back into government. Before Gordon Brown begins his mission to reform parliament and revive our flagging democracy he – or, rather, the people around him – should get back to basics. From where I'm sitting,

Warning over localism reforms
[, Jun 10, 2009]
Reforms to devolve power from central government to councils and communities are doomed to fail because politicians “don’t understand localism”, a new report has argued.

LAML bid rejected by Appeal Court
[, Jun 9, 2009]
An attempt by a group of London boroughs to club together to set up a mutual insurance company powers has been crushed by Appeal Court judges. The Court of Appeal ruled that the participation of local authorities in an insurance mutual in this manner was beyond their statutory powers.

The real cure for Britain’s political malaise
[, Jun 2, 2009]
As long as Brown and Cameron refuse to trust communities to run their own affairs, people will rightly scorn their efforts to rebuild faith in national politics.

'Bold' devolution slowed by Westminster
[, May 28, 2009]
Government has failed to deliver a “bold devolution” of powers to local authorities, with Whitehall and Westminster slowing moves to localism, the local government minister John Healey has admitted

Cameron plans to strengthen local government
[, May 25, 2009]
David Cameron pledges to deliver the most dramatic redistribution of power in living memory as he attempts to deal with the concerns of voters left disgusted by the row over MPs' expenses. In a broad-ranging article in the Guardian, Cameron declares that he would trim back the powers of the prime mi

Local government is 'lacking ambition'
[, May 21, 2009]
An influential panel of MPs has slammed local government, labelling the sector “timid” and criticising the Local Government Association for not being pro-active enough.

Councils not impressed by the Budget
[, May 21, 2009]
Our survey shows that 60% of District Councils think that efficiency savings are not possible; 78% of respondents think that the Budget was bad for local government; and Only 35% think that statutory city regions are a good idea.

Localis: Budget Response 2009
[, Apr 25, 2009]
Localis broadly welcomes the responsibility to Local Authorities recognised in the Budget, however, we think it should have gone further - placing a strategic role on Local Authorities in helping to deal with the recession and support the local economy and helping to progress a low carbon economy.

Localism: Command and control
[, Apr 2, 2009]
Editorial piece

Bill will let councils close lap dancing clubs
[, Dec 19, 2008]
Lap dancing clubs may be closed if they are located too near "inappropriate" sites such as schools

  • "Localis is fast gaining a reputation for pre-empting the localist agenda, producing thought provoking research and practical policy ideas"Anthony Seldon, author and political commentator
  • "Localis’ commitment to decentralisation crosses party boundaries, and their research illuminates policy problems with new practical thinking"Prof George Jones, LSE
  • "Localis offers a great blend of a passion for innovation, grounded practical ideas and unswerving belief in the possibilities of local governance"Derek Myers, Chief Executive, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea


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