The limits of localism: a decade of disaster on homelessness in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
343 Downloads (Pure)


The rhetoric and practice of localism has attracted significant support within both political and academic circles in the UK in recent years. However, it is the contention of this article that there are, or should be, limits to localism as applied to the basic citizenship rights of vulnerable people. Drawing on a ten-year, mixed-methods study, we use the example of sharply rising homelessness in England to illustrate our argument that localist policymaking has an intrinsic tendency to disadvantage socially marginalised groups. While we acknowledge the central role played by austerity in driving up homelessness over the past decade, we advance the case that the post-2010 localist agenda of successive UK governments has also had an independent and malign effect. At the very least, we seek to demonstrate that localism cannot be viewed as a taken-for-granted progressive model, with centralism (that is, the consistent implementation of a policy across a whole country) also perfectly defensible on progressive grounds in relevant circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-561
Number of pages21
JournalPolicy and Politics
Issue number4
Early online date8 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • austerity
  • central-local relations
  • centralisation
  • devolution
  • homelessness
  • housing
  • localism
  • welfare reform

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'The limits of localism: a decade of disaster on homelessness in England'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this