Local elections 2021

With two years worth of elections, it’s going to be #SuperThursday.

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay


LGIU has been working with local government for over a decade to bring you election support and coverage. This year is no different, though of course this year will be very different.

In England, the 2021 local elections slated include over 150 local authority elections in hundreds of wards and divisions for both the delayed elections of 2020 and the scheduled elections of 2021 as well as:

  • Directly elected Mayors and Metro Mayor from 2020 and 2021
  • Parish Councils
  • By-elections
  • Neighbourhood Plan referenda
  • 40 Police and crime commissioner posts

Every single eligible citizen in England is due to be an elector in 2021. All areas are holding Police and Crime commissioner elections, except for Greater Manchester and London where these powers rest with the directly elected mayor. In many areas, electors will be voting on 4 or more different ballots.  These may be the most complex elections ever – see how our friends at Democracy Club have set this out. 

This isn’t just about the sheer volume of decision making. It’s about choosing the people who will be deciding on vital services, dealing with social care in crisis, and making the tough choices as councils are struggling through an unprecedented financial crisis after a decade of unprecedented financial cuts. Local government is fundamentally about where people live and voters will be choosing the people who will help lead us to sustainable economic recovery as we emerge from the Covid crisis.

As usual, we will give your our:

  • live coverage of elections
  • ‘ones to watch’ report
  • our guide to elections communications
  • we’ll also update our Councillor (and candidate!) guide to personal safety

Advice and comment throughout the election period:

There has been a great deal of doubt over the elections and although around 90% of respondents to our recent survey felt that a delay to these elections would be the best course of action, the UK Government is determined to go ahead. However, they have made some adjustments and additional funding. See our swift read with the details.  We will continue to update our Members and Followers throughout this period. Make sure you’re registered with LGIU and choose Democracy, Devolution and Governance as a topic of interest.

UK May 2021 polls delivery plan

This swift read covers the recent decision and support to carry out the May 2021 local elections safely  – including outlines of new guidance and funding.

Will May be a missed chance?

LGIU Chief Executive Jonathan Carr-West wrote about the missed chances of updating our elections to make them more engaging and Covid safe in his February Municipal Journal column.

Our response to the May 2021 polls delivery plan

Following today’s announcement from the Cabinet Office that local elections will go ahead as planned on 6 May 2021, we are pleased to hear that a decision has finally been made by the Government. Clarity is the most important thing and the sector has been begging for this.

Read the full statement.

Running an election during a pandemic

Podcast: Jonathan Carr-West and Ingrid Koehler talk about local elections and our survey. Ingrid speaks to Professor Toby James who has been looking at how places around the world have been running local elections and whether England is ready to run elections in May.

Free, fair and safe? Local elections 2021

The Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) reveals that the majority of council officials are overwhelmingly concerned about their ability to hold local elections in May.  Our survey of 374 Chief Executives (who are often returning officers), Democratic Services Officers and Council Leaders is the most comprehensive survey of council officials across England on the 2021 Local Elections. Read the full report. 

Can we have healthy elections in a pandemic?

This think piece pulls from global lessons and outlines what we need to run healthy elections in the time of coronavirus.