Ill-gotten gains: Partisan alignment, politicised grant flows, and English local election outcomes

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Are grant flows from the Westminster government to local authorities influenced by political dynamics, and if so do these politicised transfers influence local election outcomes? John and Ward (2001) suggested that, through the 1980s and 1990s, Conservative central governments favoured politically aligned local authorities. We demonstrate the continuation of this trend across the cohort of Labour, coalition, and Conservative governments from 2007-19, and also establish evidence of inter-party variation in the type of grant manipulation in existence. We also more substantively extend John and Ward’s work by demonstrating that electoral ‘ill-gotten gains’ follow from these politicised flows, with higher resource transfers being associated with marginally stronger incumbent electoral performance. Given the importance of central grants to subnational government in the UK, these findings are of significant contemporary policy relevance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Early online date27 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2024

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