Localism is an active political strategy, developed in a period of austerity by the UK's coalition government as a justification for the restructuring of state-civil society relationships. The deprived neighbourhood has long been a site for service delivery and a scale for intervention and action, giving rise to a variety of forms of neighbourhood governance. Prior international comparative research indicated convergence with the US given the rise of the self-help conjuncture and the decline of neighbourhood governance as a medium of regeneration. The subsequent shift in the UK paradigm from ‘big’ to ‘small state’ localism and deficit-reducing cuts to public expenditure confirm these trends, raising questions about the forms of neighbourhood governance currently being established, the role being played by local and central government, and the implications for neighbourhood regeneration. Two emerging forms of neighbourhood governance are examined in two urban local authorities and compared with prior forms examined in earlier research in the case study sites. The emerging forms differ significantly in their design and purpose, but as both are voluntary and receive no additional funding, better organised and more affluent communities are more likely to pursue their development. While it is still rather early to assess the capacity of these forms to promote neighbourhood regeneration, the potential in a period of austerity appears limited. Reduced funding for local services increases the imperative to self-help, while rights to local voice remain limited and the emerging forms provide little scope to influence (declining) local services and (still centralised) planning decisions, especially in neighbourhoods with regeneration needs which are likely to lack the requisite capacities, particularly stores of linking social capital. Initial conclusions suggest greater polarity and the further containment of deprived neighbourhoods.