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Reimagining the Local State

The last five years have seen the most ambitious changes to local government policy since the 1970s, with newly devolved powers and growing regional autonomy. The innovative work of some councils – including community mobilisation and the direct participation of service users in public policy design – is gaining traction.

However, local government is also beset by challenges. A financial crisis is playing out across parts of a sector that has now faced more than a decade of belt-tightening. Demand on local public services is rocketing. England’s central government is still more dominant than in any other comparable country.

Reform has recently offered a fresh argument for deeper devolution, based upon the disadvantages that Whitehall experiences due to its centralising instincts. But this research also reveals the depth of the challenge in persuading central government to take local systems seriously and trust them with further powers.

The Reimagining the Local State programme is our response to that challenge, and the next step in Reform’s work to scrutinise the foundational assumptions that underpin the British State. The programme will develop policy ideas for the future of devolution, the role of communities, and the structures, practices, and leadership of local government itself.

Reimagining the Local State will set out new thinking, explore approaches used in other countries, and convene innovative problem-solvers from across England. It will also promote better central government understanding of, and engagement with, the priorities and opportunities that exist in our local places.

Read Dr Simon Kaye’s launch blog here.

Advisory Group

Professor Donna Hall CBE


ICS Transformation Advisor for NHS England and former Chief Executive of Wigan Council

Professor Philip McCann


Chair of the Urban and Regional Economics at Alliance Manchester Business School

Dr Barry Quirk CBE


Former Chief Executive of Kensington & Chelsea and Lewisham Councils

Angie Ridgwell


Chief Executive Officer of Lancashire County Council

Councillor Izzi Seccombe OBE


Leader of Warwickshire County Council

Laura Shoaf CBE


Chief Executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority

Nick Sinclair


Director of the Local Area Coordination Network for Community Catalysts

Ian Thomas CBE


Town Clerk and CEO of the City of London Corporation

Professor Tony Travers


Associate Dean of the School of Public Policy at the London School of Economics

Rob Walsh


Chief Executive of North East Lincolnshire Council