The nature of the UK’s public sector has changed significantly over the past decade as it continually evolves in an effort to keep pace with new challenges.
A wide range of austerity measures have heaped major challenges on the NHS and the broader health & social care sector, and many service providers are struggling to cope. Yet it is rising demand as much as budget cuts that is responsible for piling on the pressure. Many public sector executives have responded positively to the challenge by implementing constructive change to outdated organizational structures and inefficient operating practices. But efficiency gains can go only so far in making up budgetary shortfalls, and long-term sustainable solutions must be found if the social care sector is not to suffer irreparable damage.
A recent paper published by Deloitte analyses the numbers behind the UK’s public sector - and it reveals some valuable insights. The public sector is made up of more than 6,000 different organizations which together employ almost 5.5 million people – that’s around 17% of the entire UK workforce. Yet though that sounds a colossal figure, it’s actually at the lowest level since records began. This financial year, the UK government will spend over £800 billion, with around £58 billion funded by additional borrowing – adding further to the UK’s growing debt, which rather worryingly, has risen by around 200% since the financial crash.
Adapting to the digital environment
Digital technology is having a dramatic impact on the way people engage with the public sector. It has altered the environment in which public sector bodies operate, it has changed the way they work, and the way they communicate with the public. The public sector is often viewed as being behind the curve in adopting and implementing emerging technologies. Yet government must deliver robust digital strategies in areas as diverse as security and public administration if it is to meet challenging targets. And perhaps even more than in the private sector, government must harness the efficiencies that digital technology offers, if it is to continue to deliver essential services and take tighter control of budgets.
Public / private collaboration
Close collaboration between the public sector and a wide range of private companies is essential if government is to achieve strategic objectives in service provision, cost cutting, and in helping to drive economic growth across the regions. A more balanced pattern of growth and a more equitable distribution of wealth will help to alleviate other challenges, such as inequality and social inclusion. And strategies to facilitate collaborations at both local and national level look certain to deliver healthy returns for both private and public sector partners.
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