At the first session of the Commons communities and local government select committee inquiry into localism, MP Bob Blackman asked how the approach would change the relationship between different tiers of government.
Local Government Association Liberal Democrat leader Richard Kemp said: "Central government has to become much better at setting a range of outcomes and ensuring that its own delivery arms, of which there will always be some, are empowered to work at the lowest possible level."
Responding to questions from MP James Morris, London Borough of Lambeth leader Steve Reed added that local government is a key partner that should not be bypassed.
"At its best and most engaged, local government can be one of the tools that enable communities to do the things they want to do," he said. The next session is set for 15 November.