Editorial

Chancellor wants to see AI and other tech improve public sector productivity

In his Autumn Statement, Jeremy Hunt will say harnessing new tech and cutting admin workloads can help save millions of working hours every week.

Posted 22 November 2023 by Christine Horton


The Chancellor is to set out a vision whereby the public sector uses AI and other emerging technologies to help civil servants reduce their admin burden.

An update to the Treasury’s Public Sector Productivity Programme, which will be published in the Autumn Statement today, outlines “huge opportunities to cut admin, safely harness AI and deliver early interventions to relieve pressure on public services.”

A new review has reportedly found that some public servants are forced to waste a day each week on administrative tasks.

In a statement, Jeremy Hunt said harnessing new tech and cutting admin workloads would help save millions of working hours, including around 750,000 policing hours every week.

While the UK was placed third in the Government AI Readiness Index and has attracted over £18 billion of private investment since 2016, it sits tenth in the public sector category.   

However, the Chancellor said across England, 90 percent of stroke units are now using AI tools to help clinicians treat stroke patients more quickly, halving the time it takes to receive treatment and tripling the chances of a patient living independently following a stroke.   

Hunt announced a Productivity Programme, which will be published as part of the Autumn Statement.     It will consider how AI can be used to improve public services safely ahead of the spring. Along with AI and new technology, the Productivity Programme highlighted workforce and prevention as areas for improvement.

“Our public servants are among the best in the world, but we don’t help them or taxpayers when a day every week is wasted on admin, said Hunt.

“We must do better by cutting admin, preventing problems before they emerge and safely introducing new technology like AI. This will deliver happier workforces, better public services and a stronger economy.”

Driving productivity in policing, education

The Home Office wants the police to save up to 38 million hours per year and 750,000 hours every week, as revealed in the independent Police Productivity Review. That is the equivalent of an additional 20,000 police officers’ time.

These proposals range from building on recently introduced measures that “cut unnecessary bureaucracy” to driving greater productivity through the adoption of new and improved technology.

The Government also said it wants to reduce teacher workload by up to five hours each week within the next three years, through helping teachers cut down on tasks like lesson planning, inputting data or marking.