Intergovernmental Relations and Innovation: From cooperative to competitive welfare federalism in the UK

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Intergovernmental relations serve several purposes: to resolve conflicts of competence; to deal with overlaps and externalities; to harmonize policies; and to respond to new policy challenges. The United Kingdom is not a federation but an asymmetrically devolved system where the central government doubles up as the government of the largest part. This makes the application of federal intergovernmental theory problematic. At the same time, federations are tending to move from cooperative to competitive federalism. There is no case for greater policy harmonization. On the contrary, the increased divergences between the dominant English legislative majority and majorities in the devolved territories points to increased autonomy and less harmonization. There is scope for policy learning within competitive devolution, particularly on new policy challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-230
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number2
Early online date3 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2012



  • Devolution
  • Intergovernmental relations

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