The UK government reduced expenditure and introduced local financial self-sufficiency in pursuing austerity after the 2008 crash, forcing local governments in England to find savings and new income sources to close funding gaps. As new financial strategies and practices were devised, 'councillors at the casino' were characterized as taking risks with local taxpayers' money and jeopardizing local public service provision. Looking beyond the high-profile cases in an internationally resonant local public sector reform laboratory, Financialization and Local Statecraft examines the wider landscape across local government in England since 2010, which comprises a local tier of over 300 governments managing £100bn of revenue expenditure, employing almost 1.5 million people, and providing services to over 56 million people across the country. Andy Pike draws on a new local statecraft theory to explain how local statecrafters act in realms including financial strategies and risks, external advice, borrowing and debt management, and in and out-of-area activities. The framework reveals and accounts for their vanguard, intermediate, and long tail approaches with differing engagements with financialization. While limited within the overall landscape, such relations and UK government policy are rewiring and rescaling local statecraft and relocating risks and uncertainties onto local government and the wider local state. UK government policy and the extension and intensification of financialization expose the local state's financial sustainability and resilience in the longer term. They raise fundamental questions about what local government is for and how it should be funded. The erosion of local accountability of local statecraft in financialization risks creating a de-politicized and post-democratic local governance.
Financialization and Local Statecraft
Hardback (24 Aug 2023)
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