Policy Document

Preventative spend: Public Services and Governance



Cairney P, St Denny E & Matthews P (2016) Preventative spend: Public Services and Governance. Policy Briefing, 1. University of Stirling.

While there is a current emphasis on shifting spend on public services towards prevention, it is increasingly being noted that progress is slow and challenging. This policy briefing looks at: Why is there such as gap between our expectations for prevention policy and the actual result? Rather than providing a "how-to" guide on preventative spend and specific policies, if offers evidence on the common reasons why initiatives do not gain traction and offers a range of possible solutions. Key points: Preventative spend is seen as a key way for governments to use their resources more efficiently and effectively While a lot of emphasis is placed on it as a policy approach, there has been limited success in implementation The concept of preventative spend can be vague and used imprecisely which makes implementation more difficult Shifting resources toward prevention requires difficult political choices that may impact negatively on existing services The evidence base for preventative spend is patchy, and even "gold standard" evidence-based policies may not be replicable in different contexts While preventative spend tends to focus on human services, there is also evidence that, as an approach, it is applicable in a wider range of public service areas.

Title of seriesPolicy Briefing
Number in series1
Publication date29/02/2016
PublisherUniversity of Stirling

People (2)


Professor Paul Cairney

Professor Paul Cairney

Professor, Politics

Professor Peter Matthews

Professor Peter Matthews

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology