Devolved public services

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at the NHS, schools, and social care in the four nations.

Since their creation in 1999, the devolved governments have chosen to fund and run public services in very different ways. While the way they also choose to compile data is a real obstacle to comparison, this report reveals the extent to which public service performance has diverged across the UK from 1999 to the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. All the devolved nations spend more than England but all three have higher rates of treatable mortality – deaths that could be prevented through timely and effective health care interventions – and by 2018 all three had lower maths and science results. Spending per person in Scotland and Northern Ireland is 29% higher than spending per person on comparable services in England, and 23% higher in Wales. Scotland spends the most per person on health and schools – and also has the most doctors, nurses, teachers and care workers. But this is not matched in performance. The last 20 years provide a fascinating – and sobering – experiment for policy makers to learn from each other. For the four nations to do so, the report recommends: The Treasury regularly publish its analysis of the level of spending on comparable public services in each nation and region of the UK. The four governments work to improve the comparability of public service performance data. The four governments must work to fill key data gaps in unpaid social care, private funding. of social care, and educational attainment before age 15. The Treasury and devolved administrations jointly conduct or commission a new assessment of the relative spending needs of each part of the UK.

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