Localism and the Big Society

HS2 and the politics of big infrastructure projects: Civil society needs to be included in the decision making process

With parliament making the ultimate decision regarding HS2, much of the debate about the principles of the project will be conducted within civil society. We need ways of making these big infrastructure decisions that weigh local impact against the national interest, writes Dan Durrant. HS2 and The Big Society may seem to have little in common. One is a big, expensive, national strategic […]

Councils are almost powerless to prevent the spread of betting shops on local high streets

The London Borough of Newham recently failed in its attempt to block a new betting shop from opening. Richard Berry looks at the charges against betting shops, particularly the strongest of these objections and the one that is least used by detractors; that betting shop clusters have a negative impact on local economies. The simplest and best solution is to give local authorities […]

The growth of private renting in the UK can no longer be ignored by government

Private renting in England has grown dramatically in recent years, now accounting for 17 per cent of all households. Ben Pattison argues that housing policy has been slow to respond, and that the government should consider the sensible recommendations of a recent select committee report.  ‘Generation Rent’ seems to be increasingly difficult to ignore. Before the global financial crisis we used […]

The ‘Big Society’ and the politics of paternalism: Edmund Burke’s influence on the government is clear

Edmund Burke is thought of as the founding father of modern conservatism and has been cited as a source of inspiration for the government’s ‘big society’ agenda. Ben James Taylor traces his intellectual legacy and its relation to government policies, noting how strongly evident his model of paternalism is in today’s Tory party. Edmund Burke is trending in the world of […]

The central government continues to believe that it, and not elected local authorities, knows best

George Jones and John Stewart describe the considerable freedom for action and initiatives by local authorities up to the Second World War. Central controls then began to escalate, culminating in the 1980s when their right to determine their own levels of expenditure when financed by their own taxation was ended. This trend has since continued. The 2011 Localism Act gives central government over one […]

The state has a key role in providing the framework for action and policies to ensure fairness on behalf of all its citizens

Anne Power discusses Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ initiative and says that public spending cuts, which fall disproportionately on more disadvantaged households and communities, may not achieve the goal of pushing citizens towards greater self-reliance or greater equality of opportunity. She acknowledges governments are unable to deliver without the aid of strong communities, however, in disadvantaged and diverse urban areas, citizens are unlikely to manage on […]

The National Audit Office should not be responsible for the audit of local authorities

George Jones and John Stewart support the government’s proposal that local authorities can choose their own auditor as it is consistent with both localism and practice in many organisations. Elective audit and district audit The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 prescribed auditors and auditing for the boroughs it was creating as the foundation for elected local government in urban areas. The Act provided […]

Mending “Broken Britain”: From the Respect Agenda to the Big Society

Judi Atkins argues that David Cameron’s conception of a ‘broken Britain’ and the Big Society have ideological underpinnings that suggest that he is best seen not as the ‘heir to Blair’, but as the ‘son of Thatcher’. Addressing the Centre for Social Justice in 2006, David Cameron argued that ‘we have to show a lot more love’ towards disaffected young people. Although subsequently derided as his ‘hug […]