Automate the state: Better and cheaper public services

James Price June 20, 2018 12:01 AM

Embargoed until Sunday 17th June at 22:30

‘Automate the State’ - TaxPayers’ Alliance launches campaign to deliver better quality public services

  • Introducing more automation into the public sector can save taxpayers £17 billion a year
  • Automation should be welcomed, not feared. Between 2001 and 2015, new technology made 800,000 jobs obsolete, but created more than 3.5 million
  • Dedicated public service workers deserve to do their jobs with dignity, not bogged down with bureaucratic tasks

Today the TaxPayers’ Alliance launches a new campaign to promote a rapid increase in the automation of public services.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL PAPER

 

The ‘Automate the State’ campaign is the next big project from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, making the positive case for public service reform. It follows our ground-breaking survey of the tax system in 2012 with the Single Income Tax, and our programme for public spending in 2015 with the Spending Plan.

Technologies that are already available can greatly improve the quality of public services whilst bringing down their cost. 

The campaign launches with the first paper, beginning a series of research, events and more.

 

Better and cheaper public services: potential for automation in the public sector

  • Over 850,000 public sector workers could be released into the private sector to share their skills and experiences
  • There is a skills shortage in the private sector and the staff cut from the public sector are highly likely to get new, more rewarding jobs
  • Remaining public sector workers will be freed to perform more interesting, creative and rewarding tasks
  • This would save taxpayers’ around £17 billion a year
  • Automation could also improve UK productivity by around 25 per cent, significantly contributing to the solving of the ‘productivity puzzle’

 

Impact on the labour market

There is a pessimistic view of the effect of automation on employment, with tech billionaires like Elon Musk predicting vast unemployment. Before them, the Luddites tried to destroy machinery, and figures from Elizabeth I to Aristotle have predicted devastating effects of new technologies.

But technology has historically created more jobs than it has destroyed. Between 2001 and 2015, new technology made 800,000 jobs obsolete, but created more than 3.5 million.

Furthermore, the private sector has been robust in creating jobs. During the great recession, there was a spike in unemployment in the public sector but these workers found jobs in the private sector:

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL PAPER

 

Example of automation in everyday life

Accessing a doctor’s appointment can be a frustrating and time-consuming business for some patients. The traditional method of multiple phone calls and music on hold followed by a negotiation with the receptionist is not a great experience.

Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that the job most people want to see automated is that of GP receptionist. Moving to a secure online appointment, prescription and communication portal for the surgery saves time and effort for patient and surgery staff alike.

 

International Case Study - Norway

Norway’s Welfare and Pensions Administration (NAV) has automated 65 per cent of sickness benefit claims and payments processing, replacing a manual procedure involving thousands of paper forms. The project has increased efficiency, agility, and accuracy, and had a positive impact on staff. 350 employees who previously handled the claims paperwork have been moved to the front office to help citizens face to face.

 

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Andrew Allum, chairman of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Automation of jobs in the public sector is inevitable in the coming decades, and there is a way to automate the public sector that is beneficial to all. Public services would be better, faster and cheaper. The private sector has a serious skills shortage and unemployment is very low, so now is the time to release people from repetitive public sector jobs to do more rewarding and valuable private sector jobs.

“The UK should embrace these changes and take a leading role in the innovations that will make people happier and better off, ignoring the doom-mongers. The technology for 21st-century public service infrastructure is available now, and we should be excited about the possibilities for the future.”

 

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Taxpayers of today and tomorrow will both benefit enormously from the savings these reforms will bring in the form of reduced pension liabilities and pay packets.

“The commentariat tells us that people are “tired of austerity”, so this is a way to save taxpayers’ billions whilst improving services at the same time. These radical but realistic reforms would deliver better service for less money, letting more of us keep more of our own money.”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL PAPER

Media Contacts

James Price

Campaign Manager, TaxPayers' Alliance

james.price@taxpayersalliance.com

24-hour media hotline: 07795 084 113 (no texts)

 

Notes to Editors

  1. Founded in 2004 by Matthew Elliott and Andrew Allum, and now with 80,000 supporters, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) fights to reform taxes, reduce spending and protect taxpayers. Find out more about the TaxPayers' Alliance at www.taxpayersalliance.com.
  2. TaxPayers' Alliance's advisory council.
  3. This is the first paper in a series of reports and events that the TaxPayers’ Alliance will be releasing over the summer for the ‘Automate the state’ campaign. For more information on these events and/or research releases, please email james.price@taxpayersalliance.com.