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Decentralisation and Centralisation: Contradictory or Complementary. Colin Mair, Chief Executive, Improvement Service. Scope. The simple narrative Complications Directions of travel. The Simple Narrative: Looking Out. Very small number of very large councils

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Decentralisation and centralisation contradictory or complementary

Decentralisation and Centralisation: Contradictory or Complementary

Colin Mair, Chief Executive, Improvement Service


Scope
Scope Complementary

The simple narrative

Complications

Directions of travel


The simple narrative looking out
The Simple Narrative: Looking Out Complementary

Very small number of very large councils

Lowest ratio of councillors and councils to population in Europe

Limited fiscal and constitutional empowerment

Low voter turnout: limited confidence


Some comparisons
Some Comparisons Complementary

Norway: 19 counties and 434 municipalities (4,676,305)

Denmark: 98 municipalities and 5 ‘regions’ (5,515,575)

Finland: 20 ‘regions’ and 342 municipalities (5,255,068)


The simple narrative looking back
The Simple Narrative: Looking Back Complementary

Scotland 1974: 203 councils; diverse rather than uniform; 50% local taxation

Scotland 1996: 32 councils; uniformity of functions and empowerments; under 20% local taxation

Loss of major functions: public health; community health care; college sector; police and fire services


So…. Complementary

Centralisation across 50 years: whole system

Loss of “localness” and closeness to communities

Systematic intergenerational inequalities: highly local

Reversing the trend: spatial; fiscal; cultural


But…. Complementary

“Competencies” and “delegations”: rights, standards and decentralisation

Financial pressures: economies of scale and skill (note: fiscal powers = fiscal returns)

Outcomes and inequalities: national and local roles; culture and values


Government Finance and Demand Complementary

2009/10 – 2017/18 (% real terms)

NB. Projected cash cuts from 2016/17 – 2018/19


But…. Complementary

“Competencies” and “delegations”: rights, standards and decentralisation

Financial pressures: economies of scale and skill (note: fiscal powers = fiscal returns)

Outcomes and inequalities: national and local roles; culture and values


Challenges
Challenges Complementary

Form of decentralisation that enhances and does not limit rights

Intelligent aggregation/centralisation: protecting capacity and productivity to deliver to communities

Managing national and local contributions to outcomes: “community up”; “community in the round”

“What matters is what works”: Differential decentralisation


End points
End Points Complementary

“This could happen just now” but….

Political and executive culture….letting go

Empowerment and subsidiarity: “community up” but….

Beyond purely territorial focus: identity and interests


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