by Harry Barclay (London Correspondent)

The State of the State
We interviewed fifty senior figures including civil servants, police leaders, NHS directors and council chief executives, producing the most extensive qualitative research of its kind in the sector.
The State of the State citizen survey finds that eight years of austerity have shifted the public mood. Support for spending cuts has ebbed away and the majority now believe that taxes should rise to fund more extensive public services. Across the UK’s governments and its public sector, officials told us about organisational pressures, the impact of austerity and their concerns over funding for the future.
But at the same time, they also talked about the potential for continued reforms including greater regional devolution, ongoing digital transformation, more deliberate talent management, fresh progress on the industrial strategy and a clearer connection between budgets and outcomes. All of this means that ministers and officials face incredibly tough decisions in Spending Review 2019 – but at the same time, the Review represents an opportunity for the government to chart a bold new course for public sector reform.
Key findings
Austerity has flipped public attitudes to tax, spending and the scope of public services – Our citizen survey finds that eight years of austerity has seen a turnaround in attitudes to tax, spending and the scope of public services. 
The most acceptable forms of charging for public services are penalty fines for wasting public sector time – Leaders from the public’s services told us that charging for some elements of their offer might be a way to alleviate budget pressures and demand. Our citizen survey explored the circumstances in which the public would find charges reasonable, and found that the most acceptable would be penalty fines for wasting public sector time, like missing NHS appointments or wrongly calling out the emergency services.
Citizen views differ significantly across the UK’s four countries – While devolution in its current form has been in place for 21 years, the past four have seen some of the most significant events in its history – not least the ongoing absence of a Northern Ireland Executive. Recent years have also seen an acceleration in the public policy differences between the devolved administrations, and our survey finds that citizen attitudes also differ.
The State of the State
This year’s report comes a decade after the global financial crisis and amid the UK’s complex departure from the EU. That process is taking place under intense press scrutiny, fuelled by passionate politics and debated relentlessly across social media, with an inevitable consequence that the depth of other policy development may not be as profound as it needs to be.
This report casts a spotlight on the broader challenges – both related to Brexit and not – that affect the quality of our public services, the fairness of our society, the security of our citizens and the prosperity of our country.
to be continued……..

One thought on “The State of the State Government beyond Brexit

  1. Part 2:

    *Main findings* Austerity has flipped public attitudes to tax and spending Our survey finds that eight years of austerity has seen a turnaround in attitudes to tax and spending. As austerity began in 2010, more than half of the public backed spending cuts to restore the public finances. In 2018, as the Prime Minister calls a formal end to the austerity years, that support has dwindled to less than one fifth of the public. Over a similar timescale, the proportion of people who back tax rises to fund more extensive public services has grown from 46 per cent to 62 per cent, representing a fundamental shift in public opinion.

    *People are increasingly concerned about public services and their future provision.* Our survey finds that the public is increasingly concerned about public services. It suggests that the past four years have seen a decline in the number of people who think that public bodies understand their needs, listen to their preferences and involve them in decisions – perhaps driven by perceptions of austerity. Looking to the future, the number of people who are worried that the state will provide too little support for them in the years ahead has risen from fifty per cent in 2010 to seventy per cent this year. The survey also finds that the number of people who believe the government does too much has fallen – from 64 per cent in 2010 to 41 per cent this year. That illustrates the scale of the challenge for policymakers currently considering how to reset the citizen-state relationship so that people take more responsibility for their own lives and rely less on public services.

    *Local government cuts are having unintended consequences across the system.* Interviewees from the police and the NHS told us that cuts to local government have shunted pressure to their services as austerity is felt across the system.

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    Throughout this decade, successive UK governments have strived to repair the damage to the public finances left by the global financial crisis. Through austerity measures, the deficit it left behind has reduced by three quarters since 2010, but years of borrowing have left the government with £1.8 trillion of debt.


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