McInroy, N. (2008), "Financing Local Government", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 21 No. 7, pp. 814-815. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513550810909267
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Devolution of central government powers and resources to local government is a key debate within many democracies. This debate often focuses on striking an appropriate balance between central control which ensures fiscal steerage, efficiency and wider equality and local devolution which reflects local needs and local democratic accountability. In this publication, the issue of Local government finance is considered, via a range of locations within the commonwealth. The book in particular explores a range of methods for fiscal decentralisation and in so doing provides an in‐depth consideration of revenue sources available, the accompanying relationships between central and local government and the rules and procedures required.
This book is informative and timely. For UK readers, it sets out options for financing local government and is a useful resource for the ongoing debate around local central relations. The UK, and in particular England, is heavily centralised and this book provides a useful insight to anyone interested in enhancing the role of local government and in particular developing their fiscal competencies. This book offers both a comprehensive description of the options, an analysis of their pros and cons and some detailed exploration of their application.
In my view, whilst the eight chapters by Nick Devas from the School of Public Policy at the University of Birmingham provides an definitive and authoritive frame and backbone to the book, it is in the detailed more empirically based chapters from Ghana (Koranteng), India (Venkatacharan) and to lesser extent the wider commonwealth chapter (Alam), that real insight is achieved. This reflects how the book could have done with further edits and refinement, as it neither sits as an edited collection, or as monograph text. As it stands, its somewhere “in‐between” with the empirical parts detached from the more descriptive and “academic text” based material.
However, this is a key read to all who have an interest in the future of local government finance and how we create strong local places. In this, through a lens of the commonwealth, the book reinforces the need for creativity and imagination in how we finance local government.