“Sharp elbows”: Do the middle-classes have advantages in public service provision and if so how?


Resource authors: Annette Hastings et al.
Project: Connectivity and conflict in periods of austerity: What do we know about the middle class political activism and its effects on public services?

Who gets what from local public services has never been such an important and contested issue. Fiscal austerity and the large scale budget cuts across the public sector mean that services are being remodelled, pared back and even deleted. The encouragement of ‘localism’ by the Coalition Government may lead to new forms of service delivery, but it may also lead to some groups securing a bigger share of the remaining cake than they might otherwise have been able to. This report provides a short synthesis of the academic research on how the middle classes fare in relation to local public services – research which was conducted prior to the spending cuts and localism. It addresses concerns in both academic research and in the policy and practice community that a demanding middle class can skew the benefits of local services to their own needs. The report should be of interest to anyone concerned with how to deliver public services according to need in the current financial and political climate.

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