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Deloitte: Public sceptical of Brexit boost to public services

26 October 2016

  • Just 28% of citizens expect public services to be better as a result of Brexit, 41% expect them to be worse
  • 59% expect taxes to be higher than otherwise after Brexit, but only one-third expect public service spending to be higher
  • 59% support tax increases to fund public services

Only around a quarter of UK citizens expect that Brexit will see the quality of public services increase, according to a report by Deloitte, the business advisory firm.

As part of The State of the State 2016-17 - its annual report with the think tank Reform on the state of public finances and the challenges facing public services - Deloitte commissioned Ipsos MORI to interview 1,099 UK citizens to assess how they see Brexit impacting public services and how they have been affected by austerity.

Public sceptical that Brexit will improve services
Just 28% of respondents think Brexit will be good for public services. 41% said that leaving the EU will be bad for UK public services, including 20% who think they will be much worse, while a further 26% think it will make no difference.

59% expect that taxes will be higher as a result of Brexit, with 12% expecting much higher tax levels, although only 32% expect that public spending will be higher.

On a regional basis, these correlated with the results of the EU referendum, with respondents in London and Northern Ireland the most pessimistic about the impact of Brexit on services.

Rebecca George, head of public sector at Deloitte, commented: “A large proportion of the public, although mainly those more likely to have voted to remain, see Brexit as having a negative impact on UK public services. On the other hand, groups who were more likely to vote leave, such as older people, were more likely to think that we will see no difference in service quality, while only around a quarter think Brexit will be positive for public services. There will be some difficult years ahead for UK public services and the challenge on government is to maintain public services and continue their transformation, all while delivering the UK’s exit from the EU.”

NHS outranks Brexit as priority for public
When asked to list two or three policy areas that should be a priority for government in the coming year, 57% cited the NHS, ahead of dealing with Brexit at 33%. Education and schools (30%), the economy (24%) and immigration (22%) also ranked as top public priorities. Devolution (2%), universities and higher education (5%) and deficit reduction (5%) were the lowest priorities.

And when asked to name the top three things that would most improve local services, the three most-mentioned factors were better public transport, improved hospitals/health services and more investment.

Rebecca George commented: “This highlights the challenge facing government, while Brexit is high on the political agenda at the moment, the public will be keen that it does not overshadow the delivery of the services they rely on day-to-day. Public appetite for better public transport and more local investment may chime with the Government as it considers moving from austerity to investment in its Autumn Statement.”

Impact of austerity has been limited, most still keen for more spending
27% of respondents said they have been affected by austerity, including 6% who said that they have been affected a great deal.

72% said that they have seen little or no impact, however, the proportion of respondents who said that they have seen no effects of austerity has dropped from 37% in 2015 to 25% this year.

59% of respondents said that they support increasing spending on public services, even if that means tax rises.

Rebecca George commented: “Although there was some acceptance of austerity in the early years, the number of people who believe the government should extend public services, even if that means tax rises, has gone up over the last few years. Yet at the same time they still expect value for money and accountability.”


Notes to editors

Technical note

  • Fieldwork was conducted between 1st July and 7th July 2016
  • In total, 1,099 interviews were conducted using Capibus - Ipsos MORI’s face-to-face omnibus. Respondents were adults aged 15 years and over in the United Kingdom.
  • The results have been weighted to reflect the known profile of the adult population in the United Kingdom. They are weighted on age, gender, social grade, region and work status.

About Ipsos MORI
Ipsos is an independent market research company managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry. With offices in 86 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across six research specialisations: advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media, public affairs research, and survey management.

In Britain, Ipsos MORI’s Social Research Institute works closely with national governments, local public services and the not-for-profit sector. Its c.200 research staff focus on public service and policy issues. Each has expertise in a particular part of the public sector, ensuring we have a detailed understanding of specific sectors and policy challenges. This, combined with our methodological and communications expertise, helps ensure that our research makes a difference for decision makers and communities.

About Deloitte
In this press release references to Deloitte are references to Deloitte LLP, which is among the country's leading professional services firms.

Deloitte LLP is the United Kingdom member firm of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), a UK private company limited by guarantee, whose member firms are legally separate and independent entities. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

Mark Smith
Deloitte LLP
+44 (0) 20 7007 7082
+44 (0) 75 9004 1301

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