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First, large bureaucracies create unintended consequences. Whereas counties and cities might tailor their policies to suit local needs, a uniform system that covers 60 million people is bound to contain loopholes, tempting into dependency some who were never envisaged as claimants.
Second, proximity facilitates discernment. Person A may be a deserving widow who has been unlucky, while person B is a known layabout. Local caseworkers may see this clearly. But if the universal rules handed down from Whitehall place the two applicants in the same category, they must be treated identically.
Third, pluralism spreads best practice. The freedom to innovate means that county authorities can come up with ideas that DWP bureaucrats would never have dreamed of.
Fourth, non-state agents – churches, charities, businesses – are likelier to involve themselves in local projects than in national schemes, and such organisations are far better at taking people out of poverty than are government agencies.
Fifth, localism transforms attitudes. People would take a very different attitude toward, say, the neighbour whom they knew to be claiming incapacity benefit while working as an electrician if they felt the impact in their local tax bill.
Sixth, and perhaps most important, localism undergirds the notion of responsibility: our responsibility to support ourselves if we can, and our responsibility to those around us – not an abstract category of “the underprivileged”, but visible neighbours – who, for whatever reason, cannot support themselves. No longer is obligation discharged when we have paid our taxes.

If you consider ‘local’ to be the area where the effects of a policy are felt
Surely the key is the appropriate mix of local, regional and national policy with the minimum of replication, overlap and red tape.