Local Democracy Research Centre

Global issues are experienced locally and they require local action. LGIU is here to help unlock the latest research and connect our members in local government with academic networks seeking to understand how to tackle these challenges.

The all new Local Democracy Research Centre brings together experts from local government and academia to do practical research on some of the key challenges for local democracy around the World.

Through the Local Democracy Research Centre we are developing a broad, international programme that engages universities and local authorities to develop new ideas and approaches for governance, municipalism and citizen participation. The projects are rooted in practice but draw on insights and ideas from academia.

Our research is guided and supported by LGIU members around the World. We want to hear from you. We are also seeking partners to work with us on projects, so please get in touch to find out how you can get involved.

The Centre has three main areas of focus:

  1. Building stronger places: How can local government as a set of public, democratic institutions adapt to support and engage with local communities?
  2. Making devolution work: What are the appropriate mechanisms for decentralisation of power, ensuring autonomy and accountability exists at the right territorial level?
  3. Evidence and expertise: What kinds of knowledge and capacities are needed for local policy change? How can local policy makers make evidence useful? And what are the challenges and opportunities of data and tech for governance?



Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash


Photo by George Girnas on Unsplash



The mechanics of devolving power

New paper from Mark Sandford, Senior Researcher at the House of Commons Library. Building on a framework of dimensions of autonomy, Mark looks at the mechanisms and processes that need to be in place to devolve and decentralise power. The analysis focusses on English local government, but the framework has wider implications and will be of interest within other spheres of governance.


A New Settlement: Place and Wellbeing in Local Government

In this paper we argue that building back better must include a new settlement for place that reconnects the government’s “levelling up” ambitions with the decentralisation of power in England.


Power Down to Level Up: Resilient Place-Shaping for a Post-Covid World: This paper draws on case studies and analysis to argue that an effective case for refocusing UK governance on place must overcome entrenched orthodoxies about where local capacity lies, the nature of power in the modern state, and how we best measure policy success.

Current research

Current project: LGIU supports local government with groundbreaking new partnership approach to research

We have launched a partnership with Shetland Islands, Orkney Islands and Western Isles (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar) councils and the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), focussed on identifying how Scottish Government’s Islands Plan can benefit island communities. Find out more here.

Current project: Understanding wellbeing and place shaping in local government

We are working with Queen Mary, University of London, to investigate how councils are using lenses like place and wellbeing to manage growth and achieve broad social aims. This work is supported by Research England. Find out more.

Current project: Levelling up, governance and institutions

With support from the James Madison Charitable Trust, we are convening a network of council leaders and senior officers from across the UK, along with other experts, to investigate the future of local public institutions. Find out more.

Current project: Devometrics

The constitutional order of a country is often of limited use in understanding how it is governed in practice. We have partnered with the University of Kent to develop a framework for measuring and comparing decentralisation within different states and territories. Find out more.