Performance Frameworks, Policy Outcomes and the Politics of Short-Termism: Lesson Learning from UK Prisons Policy

David Richards, Sam Warner, Martin Smith, Diane Coyle

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This paper provides an original account of the planning and control of public expenditure in relation to UK prisons. Drawing on interviews with actors throughout the delivery chain, including HM Treasury, the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, we explore how effective financial management is constrained by an emphasis on centralized control without a proper understanding of how money is spent and managed throughout complex policy chains. We investigate the consequences of a short-termism and political whims for public expenditure planning and control, reflecting on the implications for actors on the ground who operate in the context of complex, multiagency, delivery networks. We conclude by arguing that a redesign of aspects of the ‘control framework’ is needed to ‘future proof’ service provision, improve the effectiveness of governance arrangements and contribute toward protecting the public finances for the longer term. Our findings feed into a wider critique of the UK’s increasingly incoherent state, ill-equipped to address complex, multi-dimensional, policy challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2023
EventPolitical Studies Association 73rd Annual International Conference: Political Futures - University of Liverpool + Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Apr 20235 Apr 2023
Conference number: 73rd


ConferencePolitical Studies Association 73rd Annual International Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • HM Treasury
  • Short Termism
  • Lesson Learning
  • Performance Frameworks
  • Prison management


Dive into the research topics of 'Performance Frameworks, Policy Outcomes and the Politics of Short-Termism: Lesson Learning from UK Prisons Policy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this