Central government instruments of influence upon services delivered by local government
Central government exercises policy choice in services delivered by a separate organisation - local government. The centre influences local government service delivery through using its instruments of influence of laws, money and advice to set parameters within which local services are delivered. These instruments have different properties and are used under different circumstances to influence local service delivery as the examination of Scottish evidence since 1970 shows. Collectively these instruments constitute parameters upon different services at different stages in the delivery of the service and define the discretion of local government actors. Central influence is not, however, to be confused with the use of instruments to set tight parameters at each stage in the delivery of a service. The centre also influences through use of instruments to set loose parameters. There are limits to the ability of the centre to set tight parameters for local service delivery, yet these also limit the ability of the local authority as a collective decision making body to set parameters for its own employees. The resulting model of central-local relations suggested by this analysis is not one of local government as an "agent" of the centre, nor one of near equal "resource exchange" or "bargaining" between central and local actors. Rather, through use of instruments of influence in a plurality of permutations, the centre can set constraining parameters unilaterally - instead of having to react to pressures from local government actors to modify its preferences, the centre has structural power to change the rules governing its interactions with local actors.