Professor David Heald

Writing in Progress

  • After devoting most of his research time in recent years to public expenditure processes/mechanisms and to government accounting choices, David Heald is reviving an earlier strand of his work on substantive choices facing political decision-makers on public expenditure. A chapter titled 'Rethinking public expenditure from a social democratic perspective' was published in a 2013 book, and will be the first of several such contributions to public debate. David Heald both co-organised and contributed to the conference on 'When the Party's Over: The Politics of Fiscal Squeeze in Perspective', held at the British Academy on 9-10 July 2013. In October 2014, Christopher Hood (Oxford), David Heald and Rozana Himaz (Oxford Brookes) published the resulting book of the same title as Proceedings of the British Academy 197 (Oxford, Oxford University Press). There are three analytical chapters by the editors and nine historical country case studies written by national experts. This engagement with fiscal squeeze and austerity has stimulated work on taxation, which had in the past largely been a teaching rather than research interest.
  • Together with Ron Hodges (Birmingham Business School), David Heald has published a 2015 article on the EPSAS project, a proposal from Eurostat on behalf of the European Commission for EU-wide harmonisation of public sector accounting standards. They establish the link to austerity and fiscal squeeze, and will continue to analyse the development of this far-reaching project. This provided the context for their 2018 article on accounting for government guarantees. He is currently researching the usefulness of the UK Whole of Government Account.
  • Both as a generic topic and as a theme in his applied research, transparency will figure prominently in David Heald's future research and publication. He contributed to a 2016 seminar organised under the auspices of the Royal Flemish Academy for the Sciences and Arts. His resulting book chapter on 'The uses and abuses of transparency' has been published in 2022 in Emmanuel Alloa (ed.) This Obscure Thing Called Transparency: Politics and Aesthetics of a Contemporary Metaphor, Leuven University Press.
  • The main output from his 2012-15 Leverhulme project on 'The architecture, governance and substance of UK public audit' will be a series of articles on public audit. Public audit is conceptualised as a potentially valuable instrument for achieving fiscal transparency to stakeholders who do not have hierarchical power over governments. David Heald's article on the tensions in public audit between transparency and trust was published in 2018. His attention is now returning to local public audit in the United Kingdom which, particularly in England, was rolled back during the austerity of the 2010s. He has published in 2023 on the causes, consequences and possible remedies for the local audit crisis in England.
  • David Heald's chapter on 'The politics of Scotland's public finances' was published in 2020, in The Oxford Handbook of Scottish Politics. This brings together themes which he has been developing in submissions to Parliamentary committees both at Holyrood (Scottish Parliament) and Westminster (UK Parliament).

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