A data-driven analysis of the performance of government

The UK faces a combination of failing public services and breached spending controls unless urgent action is taken, warns this report by the Institute for Government (IfG) and Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

The first Performance Tracker report finds that until recently the Government managed to maintain the quality of public services while controlling spending. But the Government’s own data clearly shows its original approach had run out of steam by 2015.

In the upcoming Budget, the Chancellor must show that his decisions about spending are based on a realistic assessment of the performance of public services that can survive public scrutiny.

The report uses government data to examine five key public services: hospitals, adult social care, police, prisons and schools. It says the Government now risks bouncing from spending crisis to crisis, against the backdrop of contentious Brexit negotiations.

Adult social care and hospitals are being pushed to breaking point and, in the case of prisons, beyond it:

  • People routinely wait longer for critical hospital services such as A&E and cancer treatments.

  • Delays in transferring people from hospitals into social care rose by 40% since 2014.

  • Violence in prisons rose sharply since 2014, with assaults on staff rising by 61% in two years.

The report makes several recommendations, including that assumptions behind spending decisions should be subject to independent scrutiny. Governments of all shades have long promised to transform public services, but these ambitions have never truly been realised. To counter this, the report suggests that government should consider creating an 'Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) for public spending', to help embed efficiency within public sector decision making.

Find out more about the Performance Tracker project, and read an online (HTML) version of the report.

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