The scope for choice and variety in local government

Dr Chris Lamb, Dr Mike Geddes

Researchers at Warwick University have been examining how far that the scope for choice and variety in decisions by local government has been reduced.

They conclude that:

  • changes in the legislative framework for local government during the 1980s and 1990s have seriously eroded the scope for choice and variety in local government policy-making and implementation. Financial constraints have also been important in restricting choice.
  • greater scope for choice exists in some policy areas, such as local economic development, than in others, such as the local management of schools
  • The scope for local authorities to exercise their preferred political choices now depends very significantly on whether these are compatible with the direction of government policy.
  • Local government has acquired significant new areas of responsibility and had its role in others confirmed, even if some of these accretions of responsibility are seriously hedged about
  • authorities may still exercise choices through their roles as providers, purchasers and contractors for services