Lyons Inquiry into Local Government
News and events
This section of the website includes details of recent news and events, including press notices and other media communications and presentations.

Press Notices
27 March 2007 - Lyons Inquiry - National Conference
21 March 2007 - Lyons Inquiry final report and recommendations
19 March 2007 - Sir Michael Lyons's final report - launch and forthcoming conference
11 December 2006 - Lyons seeks views on maximising local government's contribution to future economic prosperity
6 December 2006 - Lyons Inquiry to advise Government on the implications of Barker, Leitch and Eddington for local government
20 November 2006 - Lyons publishes findings from public deliberation events
14 November 2006 - Lyons publishes summary of stakeholder events
8 September 2006 - Lyons to challenge local government and businesses to work together effectively in promoting economic prosperity
17 August 2006 - Lyons to meet businesses to discuss local economic prosperity
21 July 2006 - Lyons Inquiry engages public
5 July 2006 - "Local government's active support is needed now" says Lyons
22 June 2006 - Voluntary and community organisations have a key role to play in place shaping (Adobe Acrobat file: 100kb)
21 June 2006 - Lyons calls for councils to promote the role of housing in effective place shaping
14 June 2006 - Council finance chiefs should be "finance directors for council and community" says Lyons
8 May 2006 - Sir Michael Lyons publishes his latest thinking on the future role and function of local government
Index of press notices concerning the Lyons Inquiry
Speeches and presentations
Index of recent speeches and presentations by Sir Michael
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Lyons Inquiry:
Sir Michael Lyons publishes his latest thinking on the future role and function of local government today
Lyons Inquiry Press Notice: 8 May 2006
Sir Michael Lyons today published his latest thinking on the future role and function of local government.
In his report Sir Michael argues for a system of local government for the 21st century that can manage increasing pressures on public expenditure, increase satisfaction and build more prosperous communities. Greater local choice, not more central control, is needed to achieve this.
He also argues that local government should be given greater freedom to 'place-shape' where local government takes responsibility for the well-being of an area and the people who live there, promoting their interests and their future.
Sir Michael sets out a challenge for central government to clear the space for effective 'place-shaping' by setting fewer and better-focused targets and reducing supervision of local government by central government. It should also clarify the roles of central and local government, based on a realistic assessment of who is best placed to do what, and allow greater local influence over public services.
In addition he challenges local government to further raise its game, building on recent improvements, to tackle the challenges of promoting effective local choice and energetic 'place-shaping'. This requires stronger leadership, closer engagement with local residents, effective partnership working with other services and the business community, and a consistent commitment to efficiency and cost effectiveness.
Sir Michael said:
"We have seen real improvements in local government performance and in public services in recent years, and this should be celebrated.
"But at the same time the gravitational pull of Government grants, targets and performance management has created an unhealthy situation where local councils are too often focused on the wishes of Ministers and their departments rather than their own citizens needs and preferences. Add to this a growing concern that centralisation brings its own confusions and rigidities and it is not difficult to see why there is a growing interest in redefining the relationship between central and local government to leave more room for local choice.
"We are not making the most of the potential contribution which local government can make to national prosperity, well-being, and getting the most from what we as taxpayers spend. This requires significant reform and challenges to both central and local government. We must recognise that this is a shared agenda: we need to devise a new partnership, clarifying who is responsible for what, drawing on respective strengths and working together to achieve the best results.
"Greater freedom for local choice and for greater variation between one community and another will leave the space for local government and its local partners including residents and businesses to address these issues with greater energy. We should be working out how, not whether, to deliver greater local choice and flexibility in the interests of all communities."
In his report, titled National prosperity, local choice and civic engagement: a new partnership between central and local government for the 21st century, Sir Michael goes onto say that:
"Greater local choice is clearly in the national interest promoting economic prosperity and re-building public confidence."
Sir Michael argues that these changes will bring benefits in six key areas:
Welcoming the report, Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, Chairman of the Local Government Association said:
"I very much welcome Sir Michael Lyons report. It presents a clear and evidence based case for localism and for devolution to local authorities. It argues for local councils to have the powers to make local choices in response to local people's needs and aspirations.
"This presents challenges to both central and local government. Councils are certainly ready to take on greater responsibilities and use them to give people far greater say over the decisions that affect the places they live in."
Steve Freer - Chief Executive, CIPFA said:
"This is a tremendously helpful and encouraging report. It reminds us that, at their best, councils are vibrant and innovative, and can make a very positive difference to people's lives.
"But the report also raises the stakes. To get nearer to 'excellence as standard' across the country we desperately need a funding system which actively supports the Lyons' vision of confident, empowered local government. This remains the absolutely critical challenge for Sir Michael's final recommendations."
David Bell - Executive Director, Pearsons PLC said:
"I found the case studies particularly powerful in demonstrating concrete examples from all over the UK. This shows not only that there are new ways for local and national government to work with each other, but also that this partnership really works.
"With this report there is no doubt that Sir Michael is well on the way to charting a new way forward in this very important area. I hope that the business community will engage in this debate as Sir Michael progresses his work."
Notes for Editors
  1. Sir Michael Lyons was originally commissioned in July 2004 by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor to make recommendations on how to reform the local government funding system by December 2005. On 20 September 2005 the remit of the Inquiry was extended to enable Sir Michael to consider issues of function before finalising his conclusions on funding.
  2. On 15 December 2005 Sir Michael issued a consultation paper and interim report, inviting responses to the questions posed by 13 March 2006. At the same time submissions received from organisations and the research commissioned by the Inquiry were also published.
  3. The Inquiry is independent and therefore the decision on when to publish this Spring Paper was made only by Sir Michael.
  4. Copies of the report, submissions, research commissioned, and the terms of reference for the Inquiry, can be found on the Lyons Inquiry website at
  5. Sir Michael will present his final recommendations and findings to Government on the future role, function and funding of local government in December 2006.
  6. Any press enquiries should be directed to GNN on 020 7261 8356.
Contact details
The Lyons Inquiry has now closed. Please direct your queries to Communities and Local Government or HM Treasury.
Communities and Local Government general enquiries helpline: 020 7944 4400
HM Treasury Correspondence and Enquiry Unit: 020 7270 4558
Further contact details are available on their respective websites

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