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Home » Library » Discussion Papers » DP0808 Litigation and the Quality of Local Government Service Delivery


This paper moves forward with the statistical analysis presented in an earlier publication on the relationship between judicial review and the quality of services delivered by local authorities in England and Wales. In this paper, we present further descriptive statistics on the patterns in challenges, permissions, and decisions; a further breakdown of these challenges across significant areas of litigation, such as housing, housing benefit, homelessness, community care, and planning among others; and a cross-sectional time-series statistical analysis of the relationship between challenges and particular measures of service delivery quality that controls for socio-economic, legal, and political variables. The results of our analysis show that there is a statistically significant relationship between our measures of quality and challenges to local authorities (including complaints to the local government ombudsmen). The stronger and more consistent results are for the aggregate measures of challenge than for the specific categories of challenge. On balance, local authorities with better quality have fewer challenges. These inferences are sustained even after controlling for measures of economic deprivation, annual expenditure by local government authorities, the presence of public law firms, and labour incumbency, as well as variables for London Borough Councils and District Councils. The paper discusses the implications of these findings and routes for further research in unpacking the causal mechanisms between litigation and quality.

Full Paper (.pdf): DP 0808 Litigation and the Quality of Local Government Service Delivery

Dr. Todd Landman, Kerman Salvo, Lucinda Platt and Maurice Sunkin