The impact of local government spending

Local councils are responsible for delivering over 800 services ranging from adult social care to environmental health, libraries to trading standards, children’s services to highway maintenance and from public health to planning.

View all Research articles

Councils provide universal services, benefiting the whole community, and targeted services aimed at individuals and communities with particular needs. Councils have defined statutory responsibilities, but deliver against a far broader agenda, often returning greater outcomes for other parts of the public sector.

In many cases, councils have a convening role, ensuring an integrated approach between different organisations responsible for meeting the needs of particular individuals or communities.

Council services and activities deliver significant financial benefits for other public service providers: reducing the demand for some services and providing more cost-effective alternatives to others. This includes, for example, enabling older people to live independent lives, tackling drug and alcohol abuse and supporting vulnerable families and young people. It is essential that this wider financial impact of council activities and services is taken into account in the public expenditure planning process and in particular decisions about council funding.

This report is intended to inform that decision-making process by bringing together evidence of the wider financial and economic impact of council spending.