About local government

What we want to achieve

Decentralising government is at the heart of everything we do - transferring power from central government to local authorities and the communities and individuals they represent.

We want to achieve a position where strong, empowered local government is able to act in the best interests of its residents with the necessary support, not interference, from central government institutions. Decisions should be driven by people and communities locally. We are going to make it clear who is responsible for doing a job and give communities the powers to ensure it is done.

We will strengthen democratic accountability and hold elected officials to account, for example through referendums and greater transparency.


Local government plays a vital role in representing the interests of its citizens, delivering and commissioning local services and promoting the Big Society. Central government will make localism real by delegating power to the lowest appropriate level.

As part of this, local authorities will be the key player in using new delegated powers and devolving powers further down to the grassroots wherever possible.

Local authorities also have a crucial role to play in ensuring that day-to-day services to their communities are efficient and effective, offer good value for money and deliver what people actually want.

To achieve this, local government will be more transparent and accountable to its citizens. It will also promote the Big Society by working closely with community groups and the voluntary sector.

What we are doing

We have already lifted the compliance burden, for example by announcing an end to Comprehensive Area Assessment.

We have increased the amount of local discretion on spending by removing ring-fences on some grants. We intend to go further with this in future.

We will increase data transparency so that the public can ask questions about local service performance and where their money is going.

Our commitment to give councils broader powers to serve their communities and improve local areas is an important part of decentralisation and localism, as set out in the Coalition Agreement. Detailed consideration is currently being given on how best to take this forward. We intend to include it in the upcoming Localism Bill.

We also intend to work with local authorities to freeze council tax in England in 2011-12 and seek a further freeze in 2012-13.

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