Unitary authority

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A unitary authority is an area in England that has only a single tier of local government. From 1888 onwards County Boroughs had performed a similar function, but these were abolished in 1972 when a two-tier system of local government was applied throughout the country, with counties at the upper level and districts (some designated as boroughs or cities) as the lower level). From 1985 onwards there has been a move to replace the two-tier system with unitary authorities, but this not happened throughout the country. Most of the current unitary authorities represent previous districts, but is some cases such as Cornwall the existing county has become a unitary authority, the districts having been abolished.

The previous counties have mostly been retained as ceremonial counties but have no local government functions in the areas covered by separate unitary authorities.

Within the six metropolitan counties, there are metropolitan boroughs, which act essentially like unitary authorities, although sharing some services between them.

Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all have single-tier local government (beneath their own parliaments or assemblies) but the term "unitary authority" is not used there.

List of English unitary authorities

England, unitary authorities shown in red