Home Political science Devolution and Localism in England
List of Abbreviations
BBC British Broadcasting Corporation
BEM Black and Ethnic Minority
BIS Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
BISLocal BIS regional structure
CCA Combined City Authority
CEO Chief Executive Officer
CRC City Regions Commission
CURDS Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, Newcastle University
DCLG Department for Communities and Local Government DfT Department of Transport
EALC East Anglian Local Councils
EDL English Defence League
ERDF European Regional Development Fund EU European Union
GP General Practitioner
HCA Homes and Community Agency
HMSO Her Majesty's Stationary Office
HM Treasury Her Majesty's Treasury HOC House of Commons
ICM ICM Research Ltd. – polling organisation
IEA Institute of Economic Affairs
IPPR Institute for Public Policy Research
LEP Local Enterprise Partnership
LAA Local Area Agreements,
LGA Local Government Association
LSP Local Strategic Partnerships
MAA Multi-Area Agreement
Decentralisation and Governance in England and the UK
Localism and Globalisation
The study of nation states has been dominated in recent years by two strong trends: globalisation and decentralisation. Held et al. (1999) argue that they are opposite ends of a continuum from global through regional to local and that 'the driving forces of globalisation … are creating new pressures on governments to decentralise' (Cheema and Rondinella, 2007, p.3). So it is argued (Hooghe and Marks, 2001) that centralised authority has given way to different forms of governing in which formal authority has been dispersed both up to supra-national institutions and down to regional and local governments with the result that 'over the past fifty years, we have seen a rapid and extensive worldwide trend towards decentralisation of government' (Scott, 2012, p.38).
Most European national states have each been formed in a historic process which drew regions together under a single government, and many of these still retain a strong identity. Thus Belgium has Flanders, a Protestant, predominantly Flemish speaking region, and also Brabant which is Catholic and French speaking; Spain has distinctive historic regions including Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque country, and Germany was created in the nineteenth century from a number of kingdoms and principalities such as Bavaria and Saxony. This also applies to recent members such as Poland and Romania (Bradbury and Le Gales, 2008). The regions of European countries have achieved varying degrees of recognition and power in each country, from a federal form of government in Germany since 1946 to defined powers for regions in others. As we will see, Britain is no exception. Although Britain has traditionally been seen as a highly unified state, historically it derives from the incorporation of a number of distinct 'nations' under predominantly English rule. However, it was not until the 1990s that significant powers were devolved to any of the constituent regions.
a) Treisman (2007) has identified several dimensions by which decentralisation can be classified as follows:
This approach originated in political science and public administration theory from studies on European integration and was developed by Hooghe and Marks in the early 1990s as a way of examining how authority structures work in the global political economy through mutual interaction to produce entanglement between domestic and international levels of authority. Multi-level governance within a nation is seen in terms of a partnership between government and nongovernmental forces and the process of interaction between them. For Rhodes (1997), governance is about governing with and through networks, consisting of both formal and informal policy connections between government and others
,which are structured around a shared interest in making or implementing public policy. Thus policy emerges from the bargaining process. 'It's about participation, stupid!' as Edlar-Wallstein and Kohler-Koch (2008) claim.
b) Administrative decentralisation
Administrative decentralization is often used to refer to the way in which authority is distributed within an organization (Richards, 2008), but at government level it refers to the transfer of public functions from the central government to government agencies, subordinate levels of government, semi-autonomous public authorities or to regional authorities, etc. Sometimes it is further divided into three types: deconcentration, delegation and devolution. De-concentration redistributes decisionmaking authority among different levels of the central government. Delegation is when central governments transfer responsibility for decision-making and public administration functions to semi-autonomous bodies which are not entirely under central government's control but are ultimately accountable to it; for example, public corporations, housing authorities, transportation authorities, regional development corporations. Devolution usually transfers responsibilities for services to municipalities that elect their own authorities, raise their own revenues and have a degree of independent authority.
c) Political decentralisation
The aim of political decentralization is to give more power and influence in the formulation and implementation of policies to citizens or their elected representatives (World Bank website, 2013). It refers to the partial transference of political power and authority to sub-national levels of government (European Commission, 2007).
d) Fiscal decentralisation.
Fiscal decentralization is often called 'fiscal federalism' and means decentralisation of revenue raising powers and/or expenditure to lower levels of government
The categories advanced by Triesman (2007) have been useful in differentiating academic studies. However, some have pointed to the dangerous tendency for disciplinary specialists to 'compartmentalize decentralization' in their studies, with different disciplines focusing on different forms of decentralization and so failing to achieve the coherent picture which can only appear if the different dimensions are studied in an integrated way (Smoke, 2003).
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