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Prisoners: Per Capita Costs

Justice written question – answered on 18th July 2013.

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Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Shadow Minister (London), Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the (a) cost per place and (b) cost per prisoner was in (i) publicly run and (ii) privately run prisons in (A) 2010-11, (B) 2011-12 and (C) 2012-13.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

As part of the Government’s Transparency Agenda, the Department routinely publishes full details of average costs per prisoner and place, based on actual net resource expenditure for each private and public sector prison and in summary form for the whole of the prison estate in England and Wales after the end of the financial year. The information for financial year 2011-12 and 2010-11 is published as an addendum to the NOMS annual report and accounts and available on the Department’s website at:


This link includes restated figures for 2010-11 to enable a more true comparison with 2011-12. Copies of these are also placed in the House Library.

Full details for average costs per prisoner and place for financial year 2012-13 are not yet finalised. We expect to publish the 2012-13 data by 31 October 2013.

The Government is committed to delivering reform in our public services. The Prison Competition Phase One Programme will deliver efficiency savings, in line with other public sector prisons, over the next four years.

Care must be taken in considering the comparison between private and public sector costs for the following reasons:

1. The public and private groups of prisons are not homogenous groups in terms of prison category, size or age and these factors may have a greater impact on average costs than whether the prisons are public or private sector.

2. The private sector contracts may have different responsibilities for provision of health or education services than public sector prisons. This will affect their relative costs.

3. The different financing methods of PFI prisons mean that in an individual year the resource costs of private and public sector prisons are not directly comparable.

4. The costs are based on resource expenditure recorded in NOMS annual accounts. The PFI prisons are on balance sheet, which means that the element of the private contractors’ charges related to the capital cost is not included in the unit costs, while depreciation of buildings is included. Following government accounting rules, the charge against the resource budget is not calculated in the same way.

5. The PFI prisons costs include a charge for interest on capital costs. There is no equivalent charge in the public sector costs.

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