This article assesses progress on the coalition government's ambitious agenda for decentralisation and localism against six actions set out in the government's own guide to decentralisation. It critically examines the government's case that the previous government's centralised approach failed. The six actions cover reducing bureaucracy, community empowerment, more local control of public funding, provider diversification, more public scrutiny and stronger local accountability. The paper concludes that accountability is the most challenging and that progress is hampered by tensions between the actions and between government departments. It argues that the government needs a clearer, shared vision for localism going forward.