Accountable to whom? Data transparency, depoliticisation and the myth of the market in English local government

Peter Mark Eckersley, Laurence Ferry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Data transparency and structural reforms are changing the nature of accountability in public services across the developed world, and English local government is no exception. Various central government initiatives since 2010 have increased the number of mechanisms through which councils can be held accountable, in line with a promise to improve ‘downwards’ accountability to citizens. However, these mechanisms are unlikely to be any more robust than their predecessors in improving this relationship. Instead, the reforms have actually strengthened ‘upwards’ accountability to central government for financial management, and sought (albeit largely unsuccessfully) to make local public bodies more responsive ‘horizontally’ to potential competitors in the public services marketplace. Indeed, since they are likely to result in greater outsourcing and privatisation of public services, the reforms can be seen as part of a wider neoliberal agenda that is contributing to ‘depoliticisation’ and a situation where policy decisions are taken increasingly by non-state or apolitical actors, to the detriment of democracy and public accountability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLocal Governments in the Digital Era
Subtitle of host publicationLooking for Accountability
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova Science Publishers
ISBN (Print)978-1-63485-891-5
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Self-archiving of author accepted manuscript not supported by the publisher.


  • accountability
  • transparency
  • New Public Management
  • local government
  • depoliticisation
  • England

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