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London’s food policy: Leveraging the policy sub-system, programme and plan

Parsons, K., Lang, T. ORCID: 0000-0002-1184-8344 & Barling, D. (2021). London’s food policy: Leveraging the policy sub-system, programme and plan. Food Policy, 103, article number 102037. doi: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2021.102037


This article explores the spaces for, and boundaries to, London's food policy. Leveraging the concept of institutions as policy-structuring forces, it positions immediate policymaking capacity and potential as delineated by broader historical, social and legislative institutions. Using new data, the findings identify structuring effects including: the strategic force of different policy areas; the Mayor's remit and interests; relationships between the London authority and the boroughs, as well as in relation to the national level; and requirements for integration. Within the metropolitan government space, distinguishing between the food policy sub-system, programme and plan provides a conceptual device to understand how food policy in London extends beyond its limited direct levers and resources – reflecting and responding to the city's longstanding complicated and multi-tiered governance. Food policy is enabled through a sub-system consisting of a set of dedicated food governance structures and mechanisms – a permanent team of staff, plus policy networks, advisors and street-level implementers – which utilise different modes of policy integration to bolster the programme of activities around food. A new cross-cutting food plan – the London Food Strategy – was developed in 2018 to coordinate these different actors and activities. The case study enables critical reflection on the potential for urban food policy to address a range of food systems outcomes. While some harder policy interventions are possible, there remains a multi-level disconnect in policy authority between the local borough, metropolitan and national levels. There are constraints on how far transformation can take place, raising questions about the re-balancing of national-local power sharing which will be required for a more coherent and transformative approach.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license in new tab/window)
Publisher Keywords: Food policy, London governance, Institutions, Food systems
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of London_s_food_policy_Resubmission_30Oct2020_2_.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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