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Term Definition
Local authority

An umbrella term for the administrative body that governs local services such as education, housing and social services. There are three main types of local authority structure in England:

1. Two- or three-tier ‘shire’ counties consist of a county council, under which sits a number of district councils, in turn under which in many cases sit parish or town councils. Local public services are divided between the tiers.
2. Unitary authorities and metropolitan boroughs are governed by one authority responsible for most major services. Many unitary authorities are two-tier authorities however, with parish and town councils in place.
3. There’s a two-tier local authority structure in London, with 32 London boroughs sitting beneath the Greater London Authority. Although it is legally possible to establish a parish council in London, at the time of writing none exist.

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