England & Wales Democracy, devolution and governance

How do the UK General Election manifestos stack up against LGIU’s proposed reforms for local government?

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Image: PoppyPixels via istock

We’ve mapped out some of the promises made by the three main parties in the UK general election to see how they stack up against the urgent reforms that LGIU calls for in our For the Future of Local Government manifesto, providing an insightful guide on how the major political parties’ policies compare and contrast regarding the local government sector.

(We have used the UK General Election manifesto of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties plus some information from the Labour Party local election manifesto to compile this chart.)

We welcome the widespread political support for devolution, and in our LGIU@40 manifesto we called for decisions to be made at the lowest possible level of government. Bespoke devolution deals, tailored to the specific needs of local communities, are the most effective way to deliver the aspirations of residents. This approach not only provides cost-effective, locally necessary public services but also enhances community engagement by allowing citizens to have a more direct influence on decisions impacting their daily lives.

However, our manifesto analysis has highlighted a significant concern: all political parties have underestimated the severe financial crisis facing local government. The need for urgent action is clear if we are to prevent hundreds of councils from plunging into effective bankruptcy.

Our most recent State of Local Government Finance survey revealed that more than half of local authorities are likely to declare effective bankruptcy within the next parliamentary term (five years), with nearly one in ten (9%) expected to do so within the current financial year. Earlier this year, 19 councils were granted permission to sell local assets worth hundreds of millions of pounds in a bid to balance their books. Without additional funding or the ability to raise their own funds, councils will inevitably fall deeper into debt, regardless of which party has a majority at the next election.

Rebuilding trust between citizens and the state is crucial for democracy, particularly when fulfilling manifesto commitments. National success has local foundations, and the next government needs a functioning local government to deliver its national mandate. The myriad pressures and challenges facing the next government – from housing to social care to record levels of public distrust – can only be tackled in partnership with a resilient, sustainable local government sector.

The LGIU believes that soon-to-be-elected local politicians and a new national government must collaborate to restore trust and confidence in our political structures. This must include a comprehensive reform of local government systems. Local authorities should be granted the autonomy to tailor policy decisions to local circumstances and needs, supported by a funding mechanism that ensures these decisions can be financed effectively and sustainably. Only then can we begin to restore public confidence in the commitment of government and politicians to the welfare of local communities.

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3 thoughts on “How do the UK General Election manifestos stack up against LGIU’s proposed reforms for local government?

  1. Hi, I would like to point a quite important fact.
    Your report is already outdated or is there a mistake by a reason?
    According to the latest poll which you should pay close attention we can see a slightly different picture.
    Yes there are Labours, Conservatives and Lib Dems but where is a Reform UK?
    They MP’s will be in Parliament this time in much bigger capacity and they will have a substantial impact on Local Government for sure.
    I do suggest updating your report as is misleading in terms of who is a major party.

    1. Dear Marcin,

      We are well aware of the polling data and the increase in support for Reform UK, which current data suggests, but that will not result in parliamentary seats in a first-past-the-post electoral system. The 14-20% range of support for Reform UK will not result in parliamentary gains unless support is concentrated in particular constituencies and, with the possible exception of Clacton-on-sea, this is highly unlikely to be the case.

      Although the Liberal Democrats (with a current polling range of 8-14%) are not performing as well as Reform UK in the national polls, the party is likely to retain seats in areas where its support is concentrated. If our electoral system was based around proportional representation then national polling of voting intention would be more indicative of the likely number of seats gained and we would be covering the Reform UK manifesto rather than, or in addition to, the Liberal Democrat manifesto. In a first-past-the-post system, however, it is most likely that the Lib-Dems will win/retain significantly more seats than Reform UK.

      I hope this is helpful.

      Kind regards,
      Peter

      1. Dear Peter,

        Thanks for your explanation and I do understand nothing will change till we do not force on main parties to make a voting more fairer for future elections.
        They are comfortable with current voting system as one or another will win.

        In current election is different and we do have a quite a lot of people (~30%) who are not decided but rather do not want to vote for any well known parties.

        If they can see alternative who knows, a miracle can happen.

        I do not want to be advocate of any party but I am one of that people who have enough of politics who do not listen and are disconnected from reality and do not represent ordinary people like myself.

        Indication to people of only 3 choices they have and not mentioning others is a discrimination and an attempt of altering a results.
        It is simply sending a message: Choose any of those three because other will not win anyway and your vote will not count.
        In other words vote for the least worst form those 3.

        I do not want to accuse you of any above but it is a view of outsider who can’t get use to it and want a better and fairer future.

        Thanks in advance for taking my point into consideration.

        Kind regards,
        Marcin

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