Working to make government more effective

Hybrid event

How can the government improve public service productivity?

The first of our Productivity Pitches, a new event series organised jointly with The Productivity Institute.

Nick Davies, Cat Little, and Professor Bart van Ark in discussion on stage at the Institute for Government.
Productivity Pitches: Cat Little, Second Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, and Professor Bart van Ark, Managing Director of The Productivity Institute, joined the IfG's Nick Davies to discuss public service productivity.

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In this first Productivity Pitches event, a new series that the Institute for Government will organise jointly with The Productivity Institute, we were delighted to welcome Cat Little, Second Permanent Secretary to the Treasury and Bart van Ark, Managing Director of The Productivity Institute to discuss these questions:

  • What are the causes of weak productivity growth in public services?
  • How can digital and AI play in improving public service productivity?
  • What lessons can be learned from the private sector?

With little room for manoeuvre to increase spending on struggling public services, the UK government must ensure that every pound is spent well.

However, public service productivity fell both during and after the pandemic. For example, the government’s successful programme to increase the number of police officers by 20,000 has only resulted in a small improvement to charge rates. Some important hospital activity is still below pre-pandemic levels despite substantial spending increases and rising staff numbers. And ONS records show that adult social care productivity more or less stalled for the decade before the pandemic.

So with the fiscal situation unlikely to improve in the immediate future, what can government and frontline services do to improve productivity?

The event was chaired by Nick Davies, Programme Director at the Institute for Government.

Productivity Pitches is a new quarterly series hosted by the Institute for Government highlighting examples of productivity improvements in public services. These events will look at innovations in everything from technology and IT to management and clinical improvements, allowing those on the frontline to showcase how their innovations are improving service performance and saving money.

Follow us on X (formerly known as Twitter) @ifgevents and join the conversation using #ProductivityPitches

Productivity Pitches is produced in partnership with The Productivity Institute. See The Productivity Institute's recent work on this subject.

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