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English Resilience in the Face of Austerity

Governmental Financial Resilience

ISBN: 978-1-78714-263-3, eISBN: 978-1-78714-262-6

Publication date: 30 May 2017


In the aftermath of the financial crisis, English local government faced a period of significant budget reduction and uncertainty. Austerity measures were effectively rolled out over several budget iterations, resulting in a 37% real-term reduction in core central government funding, equivalent to a 25% reduction in income/spending power (including council tax) between 2010 and 2011 and 2015 and 2016. At the same time, changes in government policy in a range of areas between 2011 and 2012 and 2015 and 2016 created 164 new burdens on local government, with an estimated value of £11.5 billion, many of which were unfunded. All of this during a period when local government was being encouraged to freeze council tax and when natural pressure on locally collected taxation and services was increasing due to the economic recession.

This chapter reviews the responses of four English local governments to the austerity period triggered by the onset of the global financial crisis in 2007. For the English councils the results develop into two main themes. Firstly, there appeared to be a common set of anticipatory and coping capacities employed both in the lead up to the funding cuts from 2010 onwards and in the way councils subsequently dealt with aspects of the crisis. Secondly, despite this commonality, the specific and local contexts experienced by each council, both internally and externally, determined their overall path to dealing with austerity. These two paths were self-regulation and constrained adaption.



Jones, M. (2017), "English Resilience in the Face of Austerity", Governmental Financial Resilience (Public Policy and Governance, Vol. 27), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 73-91.



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