Performance Tracker 2023

Think tank: Institute for Government

Author(s): Various authors

October 30, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at public services as the UK approaches a general election.

The annual Institute for Government/Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) public services stocktake reveals that the government’s spending plans from April 2025 onwards – which Labour have also committed to – will likely mean that all services other than children’s social care could be performing worse in 2027/28 than on the eve of the pandemic, and in most cases services were performing worse on the eve of the pandemic than they were in 2010.

Performance Tracker 2023 outlines the current state of nine public services – general practice, hospitals, adult social care, children’s social care, neighbourhood services, schools, police, criminal courts and prisons – and the problems they face, and makes clear the consequences of spending choices this and the next government may take. The incredibly tight spending plans meaning the settlements for unprotected areas of public spending average -1.2% per year in real terms.

The public is experiencing first-hand the consequences of successive governments’ short-term policy making, with decades of under-investment in capital having a serious impact on the productivity of public services. Teachers, nurses, doctors and social workers work in crumbling and cramped building and many services are experiencing a full-blown workforce crisis.

Without serious action to improve public service productivity, the new IfG/CIPFA report says the government risks getting stuck in a doom loop – with the perpetual state of crisis burning out staff and preventing services from taking the best long-term decisions.