LGIU@40: For the future of local government

LGIU@40 launches a programme of work driven by our core belief in the vital role that local democratic institutions have in creating better places for us all.

Together with our members and the wider sector we will be establishing a set of new ideas about how local government could work better – could be enabled to work better – and how we can build the firm foundations we need to navigate a turbulent and uncertain future.

Image: SasinParaksa via istock

Local government and localism - hand in glove

The UK faces a series of profound challenges, with increasing numbers of people feeling that the country is just not working as it should.

Over the years governments have embraced various forms of localism as their vehicle of choice for tackling the long-running structural problems – skills and productivity challenges, huge disparities between cities and regions, public services locked in permacrisis – that have led us to this point.

But none of these attempted solutions has succeeded in shifting the dial and, in part, this is because none of them have included a clear and central role for local democratic institutions.

If we need localism – if we want localism to work – we also need an invigorated local government as the institutional form that facilitates and legitimises localism.

And that is what successive governments have missed – there is a local government shaped hole in all their plans. A hole that this programme of work aims to fill.

Read Jonathan Carr-West’s white paper, introducing the ideas behind this programme of work.

The big questions

What if local government was funded properly?

What if central government trusted local government to do its job?

What if people trusted democratic institutions again?

What if people really participated in local democracy?

Why is local government the answer?


As LGIU begins its fifth decade we are running a programme of work – LGIU@40 – throughout the summer and into the autumn, which will culminate in the delivery of a set of new ideas for achieving a better future for all our places.

Based around a framework of five big questions, this programme will build on projects and research that the LGIU has already undertaken. But it will be augmented, informed, and shaped through a series of evidence gathering and consultation workshops and events around the country over the coming months.

Programme activity

Consultation, research and events for this project are already underway and will continue well into Autumn 2023. On the rest of this page you will find some of the key activities and we will be adding to this page as new activities and dates are confirmed.

What if local government was funded properly?

Image: Scott O'Neill via istock

The state of local government finance in England

For 12 years LGIU has been surveying chief executives, directors of finance and council leaders in England to throw a spotlight on how they view the state of council finances. This year the survey forms part of a much wider research project supporting our LGIU@40 programme. Explore this project.

Global Local Executive Panel: Finding long-term financial sustainability

LGIU and the Victorian Local Government Association (VLGA) are bringing together senior executives from Ireland, the UK and Australia to explore the long-term financial sustainability and stability of local government. Find out more.

Funding systems for local government – international comparisons

The LGIU’s Local Democracy Research Centre is running a comparative project, in partnership with University of Northumbria, exploring how council funding works in three jurisdictions: Italy, German and Japan. The research will build up a detailed picture of qualitative experiences of local government finance in different places.

What if central government trusted local government to do its job?

Image: fizkes via istock

The future of social care in Scotland

In response to the proposed centralisation of social care services in Scotland we are working with experts at the Birmingham University’s Health Services Management Centre to investigate what the impact will be for local authorities.

Devolution in England - the story so far

As we approach the ten year anniversary of the “devo-Manc” deal with Greater Manchester, LGIU will be reporting on the progress so far of devolution to combined authorities and directly elected mayors across England.

What if people trusted democratic institutions again?

Image: BrianAJackson via istock

The implementation of voter ID

We will conduct original research on how the implementation of compulsory ID for voters has impacted administration teams as well as equity and access, following local elections this May. This work is supported by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. Find out more about this research.

Inclusive local economies

Working with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, we are exploring how councils can help build inclusive local economies that support strong social and environmental outcomes, giving people a greater stake in local places.

Good governance

Over summer 2023, in partnership with Browne Jacobson and Lawyers in Local Government, we will look at the changing status of local government monitoring officers and their capacity to ensure good governance in challenge times.

What if people really participated in local democracy?

Image: Rawpixel via istock

Building democratic support for local climate action

LGIU partnered with Browne Jacobson to look at how councils are building consensus and support among local communities for big decisions around decarbonisation, particularly during a cost of living crisis.

Global Local Executive Panel: Community engagement done well

LGIU and the Victorian Local Government Association (VLGA) are bringing  together senior executives from Ireland, the UK and Australia to explore ideas for effective participatory democracy, including: linking citizens’ assemblies with the institutional structure of local government, productive collaboration, power and decision-making in community engagement. Find out more and book a place.

Keep up to date with LGIU@40

Stay up-to-date as this work progresses and don’t miss the chance to take part in any LGIU@40 events – sign up for your free LGIU newsletter today.