Local government

Local government

The Government aims to make localism real by delegating power to the lowest appropriate level. Local authorities have a crucial part to play in this, both in carrying out responsibilities delegated from central Government, and in devolving power further where possible.

Local authorities are independently elected and autonomous bodies. They are largely independent of central government and are directly accountable to their electorates. Their powers conferred on them by Acts of Parliament. Some powers are given to all local authorities, and some only to specific types such as district councils. Some powers are mandatory, which means that the authority must do what is required by law; others are purely permissive, allowing an authority to provide services if it wishes. Central government and the legal system provide some oversight, but each authority is ultimately responsible to the local people who elect the councillors.

Local areas need strong, effective and accountable leadership. Governance arrangements enable local leaders to use their wider influence as well as their powers to get things done for their communities. All councillors have a role to play in representing their communities and for the successful delivery of services. Local authorities are the main mechanism for citizens to drive local priorities and shape the type and standards of services they receive. They enable citizens to hold to account service providers. They can also empower individuals to take part and be responsible for the issues that matter most to local people. Local authorities need to involve communities and local people in decision making - people need to have a reason to vote for their councils.

This section deals with electing councillors, the role and functions of local authorities, and the ways in which local government supports communities.

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