The efficacy of unitary authorities

Unitary authorities have been in place in many parts of the UK for almost 25 years. Whilst savings have been realised since their creation, concerns have also been raised. This includes worries about democratic accountability with these larger authorities, and areas of spending where savings have not materialised as expected.

If the remaining 27 county areas in England were to become unitary authorities, projected savings of almost £3 billion could be realised over a five year period. 1 This is in addition to evidence showing that substantial savings have already been made in administrative and back office functions for councils that became unitary authorities in 2009.

If the government were to create more unitary authorities across England, it should only be done subject to certain conditions being met. These conditions include better long-term strategic planning about how to realise savings, stronger audit and internal financial management systems, and greater use of forums, community partnerships and town councils to assuage residents’ concerns.


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