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How can the government ensure it gets value for money from public spending?

This event with the Nuffield Foundation explored what can be learned from the from the success and failure of efforts at spending control in the UK.

Professor Niamh Hardiman, Professor David Richards, Dr Gemma Tetlow, Dame Sharon White and Professor Christopher Hood

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To try to help fill a black hole in the public finances, Jeremy Hunt has asked government departments to outline ways that they could cut spending. This is just the latest in a long line of governments that have attempted to get greater value for money from public spending.

There have been repeated attempts to focus on the outputs and outcomes achieved, rather than just the money going in. But the most enduring and tenacious approach has been a Treasury focus on keeping control of the purse strings, rather than monitoring and holding departments to account for the outputs and outcomes they achieve.

Drawing on the findings of a major research programme led by Professor Christopher Hood and funded by the Nuffield Foundation assessing the operation of public expenditure control in the UK between 1993 and 2015, the Institute for Government was delighted to host this event to discuss what can be learned from the success and failure of efforts at spending control in the UK over the past three decades and lessons from abroad.

Our panel included:

  • Professor Niamh Hardiman, Professor in Political Science and Public Policy at UCD SPIRe
  • Professor Christopher Hood, Visiting Professor at the Blavatnik School of Government
  • Professor David Richards, Professor of Public Policy at the University of Manchester
  • Dame Sharon White, Chair of the John Lewis Partnership, former Chief Executive of Ofcom and Second Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury

The event was chaired by Dr Gemma Tetlow, Chief Economist at the Institute for Government.


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We would like to thank Nuffield Foundation for kindly supporting this event.


Nuffield Foundation
Economy Budget
Institute for Government

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