A survey of UK local government finance

A survey of UK local government finance
Document type
Adam, Stuart; Emmerson, Carl; Kenley, Anoushka
Institute for Fiscal Studies
Date of publication
1 August 2007
The Institute for Fiscal Studies Briefing Notes
Trends: economic, social and technology trends affecting business
Business and management
Material type

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This briefing note provides an overview of the current system of local government finance in the UK.  Section 2 provides a description of the structure of local government in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Section 3 summarises the long-term trends in the importance of local government expenditure in the UK economy and the composition of current and capital spending. Section 4 describes the financing of local authorities, with a description of the income that they receive from central government (both general block grants and grants that are ring-fenced for certain services) and the income that they receive from user charges. The only significant local tax across Great Britain is council tax. This is described in Section 5 (which also contains a description of the recently reformed system of domestic rates in Northern Ireland). Council tax benefit is also described in Section 5. Given that reform of local government finance is a live issue in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Section 6 concludes with a brief discussion of options for reform.

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