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About structural reviews

What is a structural review?

A structural review is used to establish whether one or more single, all-purpose councils, known as unitary authorities, should be established in an area instead of the existing two-tier system.

What do we do?

We carry out structural reviews at the request of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government under Sections 4 to 6 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 (PDF).

After completing the review we provide the Secretary of State with our advice on the issues that have been specifically asked.

The Secretary of State then decides whether or not to implement our recommendations.

Please note the Government does not request our advice in all cases, and initial enquiries regarding unitary local government should be made to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

Recent structural reviews

The Boundary Committee for England’s advice to the Secretary of State on unitary local government in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government asked for the Committee's advice about the structure of local government in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk. On 7 December 2009 the Committee gave the Secretary of State advice and published a report for each county. The reports can be found on the relevant pages:

The covering letter to the Secretary of State (PDF) sets out what the advice was.

More information on the review process in general, including the Secretary of State’s intended approach to taking his statutory decisions, can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government’s website.

Background:


The Committee asked independent financial consultants to provide it with an assessment of the affordability, as defined by the Secretary of State, of the patterns of unitary local government in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk that were outlined in the reports published on 7 July 2008.

On 15 June 2009, the independent financial consultants (IFCs) provided their final reports on the affordability of the further draft proposals. These reports which contain the IFCs analysis following the publication of the further draft proposals, became available online on 8 December 2009.

On 21 November 2008, the independent financial consultants (IFCs) provided three reports. These considered the likelihood of the individual authorities identified being able to meet the affordability criterion.

As a result of the new guidance issued in December 2008, the Committee asked the same IFCs to assess these patterns 'in aggregate'. On 20 January the Committee considered the IFCs' new reports.

The Committee also received additional reports from the IFCs relating to the Greater Norwich and Rural Norfolk pattern, which are available on the Norfolk structural review page.

Judicial reviews

A number of councils brought legal proceedings regarding the conduct of the structural reviews. The courts found the Committee’s process to be lawful. View the Committee’s statement on the Suffolk Court of Appeal judgment that was handed down on 2 December 2009 here.

Previous structural reviews 

Between 2003 and 2004 the Boundary Committee for England was directed by the Deputy Prime Minister to carry out local government reviews recommending unitary authorities in the North East, North West and Yorkshire & the Humber regions, before planned referendums on elected regional assemblies took place.

Between 1992 and 1995 the Local Government Commission for England reviewed the structure of local government across all the two-tier areas in England. As a result 46 new unitary authorities were created.