Scotland’s independent think tank
Scotland’s independent think tank

Localising Power: A little less conversation, A little more action


  • Gordon Brown’s call for elected mayors latest in a long line calling for decentralisation
  • Reform Scotland calls for elected mayors and devolution of local taxation

Reform Scotland, the independent, non-partisan think tank, today calls on politicians from across the political spectrum to endorse the creation of an elected mayoralty in every Scottish local authority, accompanied by full devolution of local taxes.

In a new paper Localising Power: A little less conversation, a little more action, the think tank cites regular calls for more devolution of local power dating back over 20 years – including by Holyrood’s cross-party Local Government Committee – but notes that there has been little central government effort to do so. On the contrary, more power has been centralised in Edinburgh.

Gordon Brown’s recent report for the Labour Party, “A New Britain”, is the latest document to back localisation.

Reform Scotland’s new paper calls for mayoralties across Scotland, which would create a more transparent and vibrant democracy as well as driving local economies. It also calls for the full devolution of council tax and business rates to local authorities, in addition to offering them the ability to create and set new local taxes.

“Scotland is far too centralised and needs to see a shift in power from Holyrood to local authorities. Although councils run many of the services that are most important to our everyday lives, few of us know who is in charge and who we should be holding accountable. Scotland is unusual internationally in the weakness of its local authorities.

“Gordon Brown’s intervention is the latest in a long list, but we need to start seeing action rather than simply words. In this case, it should start with Anas Sarwar confirming that Scottish Labour will campaign at the next Scottish Parliament election on a pledge to introduce them.”

Alison Payne, Research Director, Reform Scotland


Localising Power: A little less conversation, A little more action