Local Government: Policy and Management in Local Authorities

Local Government: Policy and Management in Local Authorities

Local Government: Policy and Management in Local Authorities

Local Government: Policy and Management in Local Authorities

Synopsis

Since first publication in 1982, Howard Elcock's Local Government has established a reputation as a comprehensive and unbiased account of how British local government really works. This respected textbook has been completely revised and rewritten for its third edition, to take account of changes in local government and in the circumstances in which it operates. The third edition examines new management structures and accountabilities that follow the policy initiatives of the central Conservative administration. It appraises the impact of the three-pronged reform of the Thatcher years: impact on local authorities' financial resources, new structures of local government and new pressure to contract services out to the private and voluntary sectors.

Excerpt

Now that it is into its third edition, this book has come to resemble my grandfather’s axe, of which my father replaced the blade and I replaced the handle. the years since Local Government was first published in 1982 have been a period of tremendous instability for local government. On the one hand, it has been under sustained attack by the successive Conservative administrations which have held power since 1979. On the other hand, the ‘new urban Left’ brought a period of stimulating development of new policies, especially in economic development and equal opportunities, during the 1980s.

The increased variation and experimentation with local authority management processes and structures which developed after reorganisation in 1974-1975 in Scotland—has continued to develop apace, with the result that it is now even more difficult to generalise about local authorities’ policy-making and management structures and processes than it was a decade ago. the internal decentralisation initiatives of the 1970s and 1980s; the imposition first of compulsory competitive tendering on a widening range of services and then of the community care scheme, have presented local authorities with a new range of management challenges, to which they have responded in varying ways. Financial pressure has forced local authorities to review their budgetary processes and has produced major conflicts between the Government and individual local authorities, notably Liverpool City Council and Lambeth Borough council.

The result of all this is that this book has been totally re-written for its third edition. Some of the old material is still there: there is continuity even in times of radical change. Members and officers have not changed their working practices completely, hence

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