Lewis Forsyth

Email: L.Forsyth.1@research.gla.ac.uk

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/lewis-forsyth-0b8466180

Research title: Future Cities - Enhancing Funding Freedoms

Research Summary

Research Title

'He Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune': A Diagnosis of the Nature and Consequences of Restricted Financial Freedoms for Local Authorities in Scotland

Research Focus

Since before devolution, there has been a trend in both Scotland and the wider United Kingdom of centralisation. This trend has seen a gradual reduction in the powers, financial autonomy and overall discretion of Scotland’s 32 local authorities. All the while a large and growing body of literature and opinion advocates for more empowered local authorities capable of not just making more decisions but funding them locally as well. Without these freedoms, both innovation and resilience will be damaged in the long term. These contrasting realities have created a fundamental problem for local government.

The problem is not new. The form, function and funding of local government in the UK has been under scrutiny for decades, scrutiny which has produced a litany of papers, reports and publications calling for a rebalancing of the relationship between central and local government. Yet, the need for a more empowered and accountable system has never been greater than now after 10 years of austerity and the devastation wrought by COVID-19 - without reform, Scotland’s local government and its financing faces a crisis. 

This PhD, as part of the Future Cities initiative, will diagnose the nature and consequence of diminished financial freedom in terms of efficiency and fairness, but also the reduced capacity it gives to customise support for future urban growth and innovation. It will also ask why, despite years of mounting pressure and political promises, meaningful and substantive reform has not taken place.  

Research Interests

  • Agenda setting and public policy
  • Institutions and path dependency
  • Critical junctures and avenues for reform


External supervisors

Prof. James Mitchell (University of Edinburgh)


Lord Kelvin and Adam Smith (LKAS) Studentship - Future Cities Initiative 

Additional Information

Academic Background

MA Politics and Sociology (1st Class Hons.) - Universtiy of Aberdeen (2016 - 2020)

Robertson Trust Scholar

Professional Background

Children 1st (Policy and Comms Intern)