UK: Public Service Productivity Declines in Q2 2023

The latest experimental estimates for UK total public service productivity, covering the period of April to June 2023, indicate a decline of 0.6% compared to the previous quarter. This follows a modest increase of 0.3% in the first quarter of 2023. Additionally, there is a notable 1.1% decrease in public service productivity for Q2 2023 compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Key Points:

  1. Public service productivity has remained relatively stable since Quarter 2, 2021.
  2. In Q2 2023, inputs increased by 2.2%, outpacing the growth in output at 1.6%, resulting in the overall decline in productivity.
  3. Various sectors experienced growth in both inputs and output, including healthcare, social protection, military defense, central government, and justice and fire.
  4. Education witnessed a fall in inputs but growth in output, while local government saw declines in both inputs and output.
  5. The estimates are not a measure of individual worker productivity but reflect the volume of services delivered relative to total inputs.
  6. Caution is advised when comparing estimates with pre-pandemic years, given structural changes in response to the pandemic.

Annual Estimates:

Experimental annual estimates suggest a rebound in public service productivity by 3.2% in 2022, following a significant increase of 9.1% in 2021. However, this “bounce-back” did not restore UK public service productivity to its pre-pandemic levels.

Review and Improvements:

This release marks the first publication on public service productivity since the initiation of the National Statistician’s Public Services Productivity Review. The review, commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, aims to enhance how public service productivity is measured. Ongoing efforts involve improving data sources and methods over a two-year period.

Cautionary Notes:

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public services, comparing pre- and post-pandemic productivity is challenging. The estimates provided should be approached with caution, and revisions may occur as methods are refined.