Hollowed out: The impact of financial localisation on neighbourhood services
Commissioned by: Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE)
This report considers the prospects for the ‘neighbourhood services’ provided by local government. Neighbourhood services are mainly those provided by local government apart from social care and education, that is: highways and transportation; environmental and regulatory service; cultural and related services; and planning and development.
This report follows a 2017 report which looked at what has happened to some 70 individual
neighbourhood services since 2010. That report’s principal findings were that neighbourhood
services had been the hardest hit of all local government services, that local authorities in the most
deprived parts of the country had seen the biggest falls and that the worst hit services had seen falls
of more than 50% over that period.
Although this report looks forward rather than back, what has happened to neighbourhood services
since 2010 has been so profound that this recent past remains central to our analysis. In summary, this
report examines three questions:
- First, when we look at overall funding for local government, how do the next few years compare with this recent past? Once other pressures on spending (especially social care) are taken into account, is it yet more of the same, or might the prospects for neighbourhood services be brightening?
- Second, does the shift towards a greater reliance in England on local funding sources represent a new and more positive framework for English local government? In particular, might the shift towards local funding hold out the best prospects for those authorities in deprived areas who (as we recorded last year), have made the biggest cuts in neighbourhood services?
- Third, what is the legacy of this recent past, not just in terms of things like potholes which need fixing but also in terms of local government’s capacity to deliver neighbourhood services in the near future? If the fall in neighbourhood service spending has not (so it is said) been accompanied by rising dissatisfaction among the public, is there really much to worry about?
About this report
This report was funded by APSE and written by Peter Kenway and Carla Ayrton of the New Policy Institute. The facts presented and views expressed in this report are those of the authors and not necessarily those of APSE.