Funding systems for local government – international comparisons

The Local Democracy Research Centre has commissioned experts at the University of Northumbria, led by Dr Kevin Muldoon-Smith, to look at how local government is funded in England, Germany, Italy and Japan.

By exploring the different systems for funding local government and providing practical alternatives, we will drive forward the debate on local government funding. This research will illuminate our understanding of local government as a system and help us develop new approaches and solutions to long-standing problems. This unique system-wide perspective will be useful for practitioners, policymakers and academics seeking to understand the different ways local services are financed in democracies across the world.

If you wish to discuss the project, if you have any questions, or if you have suggestions about how the research can progress in a way that is helpful for you, please contact 

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Learning from local government finance across the world

This paper draws on the Local Democracy Research Centre’s ongoing project – in partnership with the University of Northumbria – exploring local government finance systems in different countries. It makes four practical proposals that could be immediately implemented in England to begin the work of fixing a system that is not fit for purpose. Read the report.

Constrained autonomy and uncertain viability in Scotland

This is the fifth report of the project. It is both a detailed assessment of local government finance in Scotland and a useful point of comparison with other systems. It covers the historical, legal, and constitutional context, as well as some of the Scottish system’s politics and peculiarities. Read the report.

A systematic analysis of local government finance in Japan

This is the fourth report focusing in-depth on the local government system and funding mechanisms across different countries. This paper explores Japan, the evolution of its local government system and how it is financed. Read the full report.

A system wide analysis of local government finance in Italy

The third report in our project, looking in-depth at funding systems in different countries, examines how things work in Italy. It explores the legal basis behind local government funding and how the system has evolved, as well as providing wider contextual detail of Italian local government. Read the full report.

A system wide perspective of local government finance in Germany

The limitations of local government finance in England: A system wide perspective

This first report from the international comparisons project is an essential assessment of how local government is financed in England, the historical context, the peculiarities of the system and the reasons it has come under sustained criticism. Read the full report.

Local government finance: a comparative study

This article is an introduction to this project and includes an overview of the funding systems in England, Germany, Italy and Japan. Read the full article.