In short, localism is transfer of power, authority and resources from central government to local government and other local public agencies, who in turn devolve to and empower communities.
However, there is a tendency for some parts of both central and local government to use the term as a political soundbite, rather than attempting to achieve true localism.
Since the beginning of local government cuts, the sector has increasingly attempted to find ways of re-configuring services and structures in a bid to cut costs. As the market is becoming more diversified, authorities across the country are using their unique local make up to configure services around local people. This too is described as a localism.
While there is a large degree of political consensus across the parties and layers of Government that localism is a good thing, there remains an argument over ‘postcode lotteries’ – the media term used to describe different services in different areas.
The alternative argument is for ‘postcode choice’ – he notion that local residents choose the types of services they have through the ballot box.
Under former secretary of state for local government, David Miliband, the expression ‘double devolution’ became popular to describe the shift of power from central government down to local government, and in turn down to local communities.
Prior to this, local government had used the term to argue for decentralisation of power from Government, but with less emphasis on passing powers on to localities and communities.