Payment by Results: Hopes, Fears and Evidence

Published 11/12/2013
Type Article
Author(s) Professor Carol Hedderman
Corresponding Authors Professor Carol Hedderman, Professor of Criminology, Department of Criminology, University of Leicester

The idea that government should move away from paying for services to be delivered to paying in proportion to the level of reduction in reoffending achieved has obvious attractions, particularly in the current economic climate. But will adopting such a ‘Payment by Results’ model actually deliver the benefits claimed by its proponents? This article reviews some of the potential obstacles to success. As Payment by Results is a relatively untested concept in the field of criminal justice, the article draws on the experience of this approach in employment and in health where it has a longer history. The results suggest that the chances of Payment by Results leading to a reduction in reoffending in crime or in costs are slim. Adopting such an approach may also carry insidious, as well as obvious, dangers.