Public services are broken and this Autumn Statement does nothing to fix them. A political rather than an economic statement, it is a missed opportunity to look at long-term solutions. While the announcements have offered a degree of certainty for business, they have ignored the key role that the public sector plays in growth. Looking at the announcements today CIPFA fails to see the government address any of the key public sector asks there is nothing on public sector long term funding nothing on climate sustainability and nothing on fiscal devolution.
Rob Whiteman, CEO of CIPFA says:
“The table scraps that have been offered in the form of LHA and business rates relief are a double-edged sword and if the investment in AI is supposed to be a panacea it fails to take into account many of the sector’s root causes. If the sector had been holding out for a statement that offered significant hope this has certainly fallen short.
“We welcome a focus on public sector productivity but this is coming into system reeling from decades of underinvestment.”
In our recent IfG/CIPFA Performance Tracker, we found that the public sector has not been able to recover since the pandemic. In fact, eight out of the nine public services featured performed worse in 2023 than on the eve of the pandemic. These are not isolated problems in individual services, but rather structural system-wide issues. They have been caused by a lack of adequate funding and historic underinvestment in capital infrastructure. We set out clear steps that could be taken to address this, and none of these have been taken today.
While there are undoubted benefits from the rising use and effectiveness of AI for the future of work in the public sector, this alone cannot provide the solution to the crises across our public services. It risks ignoring the root causes without improving productivity, quality of services and outcomes for our communities. To have any chance of delivering real change, Government needs to tackle the underlying causes – such as lack of longer-term funding certainty, capital investment and a workforce plan that tackles recruitment, retention, morale and improved industrial relations.
For further comment or if you have any further queries, please contact Rachel Atkinson, firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 20 7543 5749
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