Central and Local Government in UK

Anastaisha By Anastaisha , 9th Dec 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1qt-lgyr/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Local authorities exercise important powers, spend large budgets and are democratically accountable to local residents. But they have lost much of their significance as central government has increased its reach, become London-centric, and more out of touch with many parts of the electorate.

Introduction


Despite separation to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland; the United Kingdom remains a centralized country. Empowering England’s great provincial cities ought to be a government priority, although London is still driving the British economy. Financial services remain vital, both to economic recovery and the country’s long-term future. Strengthening other sectors remains important; so does the City.
But strengthening Britain’s other cities is, or should, also be at the top of the agenda. When English capital began dominating economically, politically and culturally; the main Government became London-centric and less interested in the affairs of the local authorities.

Local Government

Local Government also provides a variety of important services for citizens. They take care of schools, libraries, historic buildings, health centres, providing care for the elderly, protecting children and generally try to help citizens. Their aim is to look after local residents and their surrounding environment by the measures established by the central Government. However, in many cases, the central Government does not provide enough money, moreover, it cuts their budgets.
For example, local authorities were told by central Government last year, that they would face an average reduction in spending power of 1.7% and in the year 2014-15 England's councils will face an average spending-power cut of 2.9%. (www.bbc.co.uk) This shows how the central Government is not providing enough funds and resources for the local councils to provide their citizens with adequate services for a sustainable life.
On the other hand, local authorities receive funding in grants also, but to have them, they need to prove to the central government that they deserve it. This means that central Government can refuse to finance if they consider that it is not profitable. However, even those grants were reduced.
The spending power of local authorities for 2011/12 and 2012/13 was announced by Eric Pickles (the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) in December 2010 with the overall level of formula grant being cut by 9.9% in 2011/12 and then by a further 7.4% in 2012/13. (www.significancemagazine.org, 2012) This shows further how the central Government are prioritising London rather than equally sharing funds and resources.

London-centric Government

It is no wonder why central government pays more attention to London instead of other cities. The population of London is 8,308 million people, which is a sixth of the population of the whole of England. Also, alot of the most imortant political establishments are in London; Parliament, Buckingham Palace, The House of Lords and so on. If these institutions would be located in other areas across England, instead of just London, it would obviously re-orientate British politics from a London-Centric to a more national focused perspective. Thus they would become closer with local authorities and voters.
A labour peer and former cabinet minister (Lord Adonis) suggests that the House of Lords should be moved outside of London. Regardless of whether this will work in practice, the plans for relocating the House of Lords is an important national debate. (politicalsocietyhome.wordpress.com) That points us to the fact that they still pretend that the measures are taken, but clearly, an overly London-centric political establishment is not in the best interests of the country as a whole.

North/South divide

British politics being London-Centric even led to a sometimes bitter North-South divide, because the main departments are all London based. This divide refers to the cultural and economic differences between southern and northern England. The North–South divide is not an exact line, but it shows us a big difference between the North and the South of England.
For example: health conditions, which are generally seen as being worse in the North; house prices, which are higher in the South; earnings, which are higher in the South and East; political influence and much more. On the other hand, The Economist claims that one of the main causes of the divide was the migration of young professionals from the North to work in London, whereas it is much less common for young professionals from the South to move to a northern city, but still politics and Central Government has a bigger influence.

Issues

However, the Central Government has suffered by itself as well. When all their thoughts and powers are all about London, of course they are losing their connection with local authorities and also with people who live in other parts of England; their voters. In 2010, in an article published on the website of the Parliament was stated the following: "The current Coalition Government has promised to "promote decentralization and democratic engagement, and ... end the era of top-down government by giving new powers to local councils, communities, neighbourhoods and individuals", as well as to promote the radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups, and to give councils a "general power of competence" " (www.parliament.uk, 22 June 2010) Which implies that the government sees the problem, knows how to solve it, but still does nothing.
The British Government being London-centric was also one of the reasons for increased support for Scottish independence. The roots of this problem are deeper and are based on the dominance of London in the UK. Firstly, the population of London dominates the UK population to an extent rarely seen in other developed countries. Secondly, London (and the rest of the South East) dominates the UK economically as a consequence of the concentration of financial, business, government and third sector organizations based in the capital. Thirdly, London dominates the UK politically with most of the levers of political power being based in the capital. (http://opinion.publicfinance.co.uk, 2014)
As it is said in D. Kavangh "British Politics" (2006) people's lives are closely connected with the local authorities, their rules and their impact on everyday life, that makes it clear that only by developing a relationship with local authorities, main Government will bond with voters. By raising the economy of the North they will also get rid of the North-South divide which does not bring anything good, dividing country into unequal parts. North is still a part of England, people should stop being blinded by London.

Conclusion

When thinking of England, a lot of people will immediately think of the South, of the huge conurbation around London, and of the picturesque villages and green landscape, but there is another England in the North. This is the country of Manchester United and the Beatles and it should not be forgotten. Central Government should expand its horizons and redirect its attention to the other cities. For example; Manchester with its public services, pioneering economics and social regeneration projects on the ground; or Leeds, with its importance for equity, venture and risk finance; or Liverpool, which, according to statistics, is the 6th most visited city in the United Kingdom and one of the 100 most visited cities in the world by international tourists. But London eclipses all of it, because of its dimensions and the excessive attention of politicians.

Central Government should give smaller cities and towns the opportunity to grow. It will help them to establish contact with the local authorities, as well as appealng to the voters. Because it is impossible to hope for reciprocity without giving anything in return. The central Government must include important institutions and/or establishments outside the Capital and they should act immediately, otherwise only London is growing, leaving the rest of the nation unattended.
Central Government need to face the problem, and find an adequate solution. Then perhaps England will cease to be so divided.

References

D.Kavanagh „British Politics“ (2006)
opinion.publicfinance.co.uk
www.significancemagazine.org
politicalsocietyhome.wordpress.com
www.economist.com
www.parliament.uk
www.bbc.co.uk

Tags

Britain, Government, Government Money, Local Authorities, Southnorth Divide

Meet the author

author avatar Anastaisha
I am a twenty years old music journalism student.

Share this page

moderator Peter B. Giblett moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know

Comments

author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
10th Dec 2014 (#)

Well expounded post, thanks Anastaisha. With technology breaking physical barriers my hope is for cities around the world, especially those unregulated, to depopulate and people moving back to villages. This will be a healthy change with electricity also through renewable, off grid - siva

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Username
Can't login?
Password