Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

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

Ferry, L.; Midgley, H.; Murphie, A.; Sandford, M.

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


A. Murphie

M. Sandford


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’.


Ferry, L., Midgley, H., Murphie, A., & Sandford, M. (2023). Auditing governable space - A Study of Place-Based Accountability in England. Financial Accountability and Management, 39(4), 772-789.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 26, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 1, 2022
Publication Date 2023-11
Deposit Date Feb 9, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 17, 2022
Journal Financial Accountability and Management
Print ISSN 0267-4424
Electronic ISSN 1468-0408
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 4
Pages 772-789
Public URL


Published Journal Article (Early View) (223 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright 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.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations