Published May 18, 2023 | Version v2
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Local Authorities and the Cost of Living Emergency

  • 1. University of York


Local authorities in the United Kingdom have suffered a decade of successive challenges, including austerity policies following the Global Financial Crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and now an unprecedented rise in the cost of living. This project focuses on the impact of the cost of living crisis on local authorities in order to understand local variations in support, with a secondary focus on what we can learn about the capacity of local authorities to respond to ongoing crises after a long period of budgetary constraint.

We draw on evidence from a survey of over 700 local councillors (December 2022 – January 2023) and a structured documentary review of 45 local authorities’ cost of living policies (November 2022 – January 2023).

Findings to date demonstrate areas of policy innovation as some local authorities create new services or adapt existing ones to support people with the rising costs. However, current outlooks are bleak as only one in five councillors believed key public services have enough resources to cope; four in five fear children in low income families are at risk of destitution; and nearly three-quarters said their local authority would not be well equipped to respond to another shock in the future.


LOCALE briefing April 2023.pdf

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