An introduction to the Localism Act

The Localism Act seeks to give effect to the Government's ambitions to decentralise power away from Whitehall and back into the hands of local councils, communities and individuals to act on local priorities.

When the bill was introduced to Parliament in December 2010, the LGA welcomed key elements of the draft legislation, such as the implementation of the General Power of Competence and the dismantling of the existing complex, bureaucratic and inefficient housing finance system; both of which followed long campaigns by the LGA to secure greater freedom and flexibility for councils.

In Essential Localism, we praised Government for their progress to decentralise power and decision-making through the draft bill. We also recognised that more needed to be done to avoid falling back on traditional central government tools, like regulation- and guidance-making powers, to prescribe the change ministers wish to see enacted at a local level.

Over the course of the next eleven months, up until the Localism Act received Royal Assent on 15 November 2011, the LGA has continued to lobby MPs and peers to secure amendments, which enable this legislation to more adequately reflect the coalition's commitment to localism, and meet the needs of councils and their communities.

This section goes through the key provisions of the final Act, explaining how these differ from the original bill and identifying some of the implications for councils.