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Public sector productivity falls

The Office for National Statistics has released its figures on public sector productivity for the final quarter of 2023, with numbers revealing that productivity dropped in comparison with the same period in 2022.

Published today, the report outlines how productivity across the sector was 2.3% lower than it was between October and December 2022, whilst it also fell by approximately 1% when compared to the third quarter (July to September) last year. The review itself serves to improve the ways that productivity in the public sector is measured, calculated by the volume of services that were delivered to communities.

Healthcare and education dominate the reporting of these figures, due to their size when compared to other such services. The services measured are split into seven categories, which are:

·      Healthcare

·      Education

·      Social protection

·      Justice and fire

·      Military defence

·      Central government services

·      Local government services

In Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement in November 2023, the Chancellor outlined how one of the focuses would be to improve productivity in the sector, with the aim of this being to reduce the civil service to its pre-pandemic numbers. This drive for productivity came against the backdrop of calls for long-term additional funding in areas such as local government.

Graphic breaking down the fall in public sector productivity

Before the pandemic, the peak of public sector productivity came in the final quarter of 2019, with today’s figures estimated to be 6.8% below that, however the ONS did outline productivity has remained ‘relatively stable’ since the second quarter of 2021. That first post-pandemic year did show a partial ‘bounce-back’ of 6.5%, which then decreased to 3.0% growth in 2022, however no such improvement was made over 2023.

Outlined in the release of the data was the fact that the figures are still currently in development, so they could be subject to revision should methods be refined, or more up-to-date data become available.


Image credit: iStock


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