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5. Power and Politics part 1
Local Authorities Local councils that make decisions for a local area. Could
be a unitary authority, borough, district council, town
council or parish council.
Councillor Someone who is elected by local people to represent them
on the local council
Ward An area that elects councillors for a local council.
Council tax A tax paid to your local council to pay for services such as
recycling, road cleaning, parks, libraries.
Public services Services provided by the government out of tax payers'
money, e.g. school, hospitals.
Borough The type of local authority that exists in London
Income tax A tax that is taken out of people's salaries. The more you earn the
more you pay.
Parliament The word for the House of Commons and House of Lords where laws
are debated and passed.
Prime Minister The leader of the party who won the most votes in the general election.
The Cabinet A group of about 20 top politicians, chosen by the Prime Minister to
run government departments, e.g. health, education.
The House of Lords Where peers (Lords etc.) sit and debate laws.
The House of Commons Where MPs sit and debate laws.
Dictatorship A government run by one person or a group of people who have not
Monarch A royal head of state.
Democracy A system of government where the people vote for representatives
every few years.
National Insurance A tax taken from salaries that is used for health services, maternity
pay and pensions.
Devolution The name given to the transfer of power from central government to
local areas and regions, e.g. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and
First Past the Post The voting system that is currently used to elect MPs to sit in the
House of Commons. In this system the candidate with the most votes
Proportional Voting systems that link the number of votes cast for a party with the
Representation number of seats gained in the parliament (or assembly). The Liberal
Democrats want to introduce this system for general elections.
Referendum A vote on a single issue, e.g. Should Britain join the Euro.
Chancellor of the The minister in charge of the Treasury, the department that manages
Exchequer the country's finances and the economy. They announce how the
government plans to raise and spend money each year in the Budget.
Democracy and dictatorship
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There are two main types of government system in the world- democracy and
Democracy is a system of government where the people elect the government in a secret
ballot, there is a choice of political parties and there is a free press and free speech.
The original example of democracy is Ancient Athens, where all male citizens (not
women or slaves) were expected to turn up to public meetings to discuss and debate new
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Local government is responsible for public services such as housing, social services,
environmental services (rubbish collections, street cleaning, lighting, recycling, and
parks) education (not the curriculum but running schools and recruiting staff).
Local governments receive most of their money from the central government but also
receive money from the Council Tax and Business Tax that they are able to charge
residents and businesses in their area.
The Labour government has introduced regional assemblies in Northern Ireland,
Scotland, Wales and London.…read more
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Join a pressure group e.g. a group to protect an area of natural
beauty from being destroyed for a new motorway, or to prevent the
closure of a school
Organise a community meeting and ask your councillors to attend.
Stand as a candidate for your council in the next elections
Check your understanding learn all the key words for local government first!
1. What is devolution?
2. Name two forms of local government.
3. Give two sources of funding for local government.