Measuring levels of Local Authority in England 1945 - 2015

Winterflood, Stephen (2021). Measuring levels of Local Authority in England 1945 - 2015. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis seeks to measure changing levels of authority of English local government since 1945. Drawing on research at the regional level, the thesis develops a methodology for assessing changing patterns of authority at the local level. The thesis identifies three measurement domains (policy scope, financial autonomy and operational freedom) and 19 individual measures which were validated and weighted by elite respondents with experience of local government policymaking. Using data from a detailed empirical study of English central/local relations, a unique Local Authority Index (LAI) is produced. The LAI shows that changes in levels of council authority do not fit a simple picture of unremitting decline since 1945, as often implied in the academic literature. Rather, the LAI reveals a complex and nuanced picture in which some aspects of authority increase while others decrease. The levels of authority for policy scope have decreased almost every year. Financial autonomy has declined dramatically since 1980 and operational freedom actually increased over the study period. Despite this nuance, the LAI demonstrates a dramatic overall loss of authority for English councils between 1945 and 2015 (under governments of both main political parties), with an overall decrease in levels of authority by nearly one quarter.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Institute of Local Government Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government


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