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.