In England, local authorities are required to adopt one of three types of executive arrangements, which govern how decisions will be made within the council. Before the adoption of the Localism Act 2011 there were two principal modes of executive arrangement. They are the "leader and cabinet" and "elected mayor and cabinet" models. A third option "elected mayor and council manager" was withdrawn in 2007. Since 2012, principal authorities have been allowed to return to the "Committee system".
Leader and cabinet
It consists of the leader and the cabinet itself, which is usually formed by the majority party in the local authority, where there is one, or by a coalition which comes together to elect a leader. The council elects the leader, and the leader appoints the other members of the cabinet. Each cabinet member holds a separate portfolio, such as housing, finance, economic development, or education. Decisions may be delegated to the individual members, or taken by the cabinet as a whole. These decisions are scrutinised by one or more scrutiny committees, which may be dedicated to one or more service areas.
The leader and cabinet are responsible for policies, plans, and strategies, which must be within the budget adopted by the full council. These will be reported to the overall council, which is convened as a whole, at regular council meetings. Ordinary committees follow and scrutinise the policies, etc., that have been taken by the cabinet. An overview and scrutiny committee holds the cabinet to account for its decisions and is responsible that the democratic checks and balances are maintained. The principle executive decisions taken by the council as a whole are to appoint the leader, to approve the leader's budget, to adopt development plan documents, and to agree the council's constitution. Beyond that, it may raise issues, urge the leader, cabinet, or cabinet members to take actions, or pass a vote of no confidence in the leader.
In addition, the compliance of councillors with their code of conduct may be overseen by a standards committee, although since the coming into effect of the Localism Act 2011 this can be dispensed with and its functions can be delegated to a monitoring officer.
Elected mayor and cabinet
The elected mayor and cabinet model was introduced by the Local Government Act 2000 and a change to this form of executive arrangement requires a local referendum. Since the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 it is also possible for a council to resolve to adopt the model. As of May 2013, fifteen councils are using this model.
Elected mayor and council manager
The elected mayor and council manager option was also introduced by the Local Government Act 2000, but withdrawn by the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. The only local authority to adopt the model was Stoke-on-Trent City Council, reverting to leader and cabinet in 2008.
Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2000 allows district councils in two tier areas, with populations under 85,000, to propose alternative executive arrangements. There are around 50 district councils that are eligible to propose alternative arrangements under this provision.
Under the Localism Act 2011, principal authorities (such as unitary authorities, county councils, and district councils) were allowed to return to decision-making by Committees, the historic method of local government administration. Under this model, a Council elects a leader to represent the authority, but they have no executive power. Power is exercised by a number of committees, made up of Councillors in proportion to their parties' representation on the Council. If a committee is unable to make a decision, or a minority group wish to challenge it, the decision may be referred to a meeting of the full Council for a final decision.