The State of the State report 2022/23

From the pandemic to a cost of living crisis
State of the State 2022/23

This year’s State of the State finds public attitudes deeply affected by the cost of living crisis, pessimistic for the future and passionate about climate change.

After years of reacting to crises, the latest State of the State report finds officials across the public sector eager for reform and calling for bold decisions about the future of government and public services.

When it looked like there was light at the end of the tunnel, the cost of living crisis started.
Senior Civil Servant

The public are split on the right balance between taxes, borrowing and public spending.

Some 33 per cent say they want lower taxes or borrowing, compared to 29 per cent who want higher public spending than at present and 17 per cent who want to retain the current balance of tax and spend. This suggests an appetite for change, but no consensus on the right direction.

The public’s message to government: deal with the crises, but don’t neglect net zero.

Net zero is the public’s priority for government after the immediate cost of living and NHS waiting list crises. While some commentators suggested the UK Government is relaxing its stance on net zero, the public clearly want action.

Why has trust in government declined?

For the public sector, there are real-world consequences when public trust falters. Our survey data found that the Scottish and Welsh Governments, as well as the NHS, are among the most trusted parts of the public sector but trust has slipped overall.

The State of the State 2022/23

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Accelerating into the future of government

This year’s State of the State reports on a public and a public sector that want change.

But the scale of the challenge for government and public services, their unsustainable levels of funding and longstanding pressures on their workforces all suggest a system that needs bold reform rather than incremental adjustments. Against that backdrop, our research points to three accelerators that could help power the sector towards its own vision for the future:

Government needs to think post-digital. The relentless progress of digital is changing the physical, social and economic environment we live in, and the government needs to be alert as those changes become apparent.
Trust in government has declined: to accelerate the future of government, trust needs to be prioritised and built by leaders with empathy.
Today’s challenges require optimisation for delivery and outcomes. If government wants to deliver profoundly challenging programmes, from Levelling Up the UK’s regions to transitioning to net zero, it needs to be clear on the outcomes it wants, optimise its ability to deliver them, and make choices about what it will and will not do.

The State of the State 2022/23

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Tune in to the latest episode of Life Sciences Connect podcast, which explores the issues currently facing health and social care, from unsustainable levels of funding to longstanding pressures on the workforce.



The State of the State brings together quantitative and qualitative research to create an evidence-led view of the UK public sector.

Our quantitative research comprises a survey of public attitudes delivered by Ipsos UK, who conducted an online survey of 5,813 UK adults aged 16-75 between 2 and 20 September 2022.

Our qualitative research comprises interviews with 53 public sector leaders including elected representatives, permanent secretaries and other senior civil servants, police leaders including chief constables, council chief executives, NHS trust chief executives and more. Those interviews were conducted between July and October 2022.

The views of interviewees quoted in this report are their own and not the views of Deloitte or Reform.

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Key contacts

Jayson Hadley

Government & Public Services UK, Lead Partner

Ed Roddis

Public Sector Research, Director

Emma Horrell

Government and Public Services, Insight Manager