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Auditing governable space - A Study of Place-Based Accountability in England

Ferry, L. and Midgley, H. and Murphie, A. and Sandford, M. (2022) 'Auditing governable space - A Study of Place-Based Accountability in England.', Financial accountability and management. .


The governance of territories has become increasingly fragmented and complex, challenging the accountability arrangements for ‘governable spaces’. Tension between central and local governments is a perennial feature of their relationship, but few analyses have explored the implications of this tension for accountability relationships. This article assesses policy initiatives within England aimed at increasing accountability in localities, by establishing governable spaces that include territorialising, mediating, adjudicating and subjectivising (Miller & Power, 2013). During the 2010s, the UK government sought to introduce a form of place-based accountability within the context of reduced central government funding to English local authorities. This meant that local government faced new forms of accountability whilst adapting to considerable financial shocks. Accounting methods – assessing what phenomena can and should be governed – underpin audit and orthodox concepts of accountability in the UK. These have driven a narrow finance-focussed narrative of local audit and local accountability. However, we also argue that developments in England in the 2010s have undermined political accountability in the localities, because they have worked against critical components within it for making governable space auditable: interpretation of data, judgements on service quality and the impact of cross-public sector relationships on local authorities’ ‘decision space’.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
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Publisher statement:© 2022 The Authors. Financial Accountability & Management published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:26 January 2022
Date deposited:10 February 2022
Date of first online publication:01 March 2022
Date first made open access:17 March 2022

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