State of the State 2019-20

Now in its eighth-year, The State of the State, produced jointly by Deloitte and Reform, is Deloitte’s most downloaded and shared industry publication and has thousands of readers in Whitehall, the devolved administrations and across public services. Informed by interviews with 50 public sector leaders, as well as citizen and frontline service worker surveys, the report explores the challenges and opportunities facing public services and broader society.

This year's survey uncovers public concerns for the environment and the next generations future. 

To see the findings click here

Perceptions and priorities

People are worried about society and the world their children will grow up in as perceptions of inequality and generational opportunity have got worse. The survey found that just a third of the public believe people in the UK have equal opportunities to get ahead in life, down from half in 2008. Similarly, almost half (45%) of the public think today’s young people will have a worse life than their parents.

These attitudes also extend to public services:

  • Half of people expect the NHS to get worse in the years ahead;
  • 44% expect there to be fewer opportunities for young people;
  • 37% expect to see a reduction in skills in Britain’s workforce; and,
  • A third (33%) expect there to be a decline in education standards.

But the public are prepared to help force a change with six in ten respondents (58%) willing to pay more expensive taxes if it means government services are extended, this is up from 46% in 2009.

However, ideas around which services should be extended are shifting. The NHS (75%), education (44%) and police (32%) remain the public’s top priorities for spend. However, social care for the elderly (30%, up from 25% in 2018) and housing (20%, up from 11% in 2018) are emerging as priorities for where the public want to see greater spend.

The survey also uncovered mixed views on infrastructure spending. Some 41% of the public believe their local area gets less than its fair share of investment. In particular, the majority of people in Wales and the north of England feel short-changed. 61% of the public in Wales and 56% of people in the north don’t feel their area gets its fair share in infrastructure in investment.

Climate concerns heat up

Public concerns over the future of the environment have risen sharply in the past year, against a backdrop of stark warnings from the UN and widespread climate activism. More than half the public now fear the environment is set to get worse (up from 37% in 2018).

More than 80% of the public would be supportive of ambitious government interventions including:

  • Over two thirds (69%) are in favour of having laws to enforce companies to be more environmentally friendly, such as caps on energy use;
  • 65% think the government should ban environmentally unfriendly products e.g. lead petrol, or non-recyclable items;
  • 69% think environmentally-friendly options should be cheaper e.g. public transport;
  • 66% think the government should provide information to people on how to lead a more environmentally friendly life; and,
  • 58% support taxing environmentally unfriendly products to make them more expensive.