The impact of austerity on policy capacity in local government

Eckersley, P. ORCID: 0000-0001-9048-8529 and Tobin, P., 2019. The impact of austerity on policy capacity in local government. Policy & Politics, 47 (3), pp. 455-472. ISSN 0305-5736

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Scholars have found it difficult to identify the impact of austerity on policy outputs. This difficulty may have arisen because studies focus on the content of national and EU legislation, or budgetary responses to fiscal constraint, rather than taking a holistic view of 'policy'. Drawing on fieldwork in two English cities, we show how ‘dismantling by arena shifting’ – exemplified by reductions in ‘back-office’ environmental policy capacity at the subnational level – can provide a more nuanced understanding of national-local interaction and policy change. We propose that such approaches may be common, because they allow policymakers to protect electorally popular ‘front-line’ services and more visible aspects of public goods provision, thereby avoiding blame for potentially unpopular decisions. However, dismantling by arena-shifting may have significant impacts over the medium-term, because reductions in ‘back-office’ functions may make it more difficult for subnational actors to develop, implement and enforce effective policy in future.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Policy & Politics
Creators: Eckersley, P. and Tobin, P.
Publisher: Policy Press
Date: 16 July 2019
Volume: 47
Number: 3
ISSN: 0305-5736
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 21 May 2019 14:41
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:19

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