Budgeting and governing for deficit reduction in the UK public sector: act three ‘accountability and audit arrangements’

Laurence Ferry*, Peter Eckersley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explains how the UK central government has changed accountability and audit arrangements for local government in England, while retaining its approach to setting annual budgets within the context of multi-year spending reviews. It highlights how dismantling the institutions and processes that monitored outputs and outcomes for spending, such as public service agreements and comprehensive area assessment, meant that top-down accountability became focused overwhelmingly on financial conformance rather than organizational performance for local government. Supplementary reforms to increase the transparency or ‘visibility’ of public administration, and thereby enable greater bottom-up accountability, have resulted in a performance assessment system that is neither rigorous nor standardized. The overall result is a weakening of local accountability arrangements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-210
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Money and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2015

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  • Accountability
  • audit
  • budgeting
  • central government
  • local government
  • public sector

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