The State of the State 2021/22

Towards a new public sector normal
State of the State 2021/22

Since March 2020, the UK’s government and public services have led radical, exhaustive and dynamic responses to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s State of the State finds them dealing with both the pandemic and its wider repercussions on the public sector’s people, the services they deliver and the citizens they serve.

Looking beyond the pandemic, the UK Government has set out its ambition to ‘build back better’ through infrastructure investment, levelling up economic outcomes across the regions and revitalising the UK’s place in the world. At the same time, the policies and politics of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales continue to diverge from Westminster. The State of the State explores all of these developments through exclusive research.

The State of the State 2021/22

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The pandemic has fractured public attitudes to tax and spending

This year, our survey finds the public split evenly between those who would welcome higher levels of tax and spend, those who would like to maintain the same levels as before the pandemic, and those who would prefer lower taxes and lower government spending. This split in attitudes to tax and spend appears to have deepened over the last year. There has been a drop in the those wanting higher spending and a rise in those wanting tax cuts since our last survey.

The public expects the UK to build back, but not necessarily better

This Government has ambitious plans for the UK and aims to ‘build back better’ from the economic and social damage left by coronavirus, and our survey asked whether people expect those areas of UK life to improve in the next few years. Our results show that the pandemic has left the public fairly pessimistic for the future. Just 13 per cent believe inequalities between regions are set to improve, and 39 per cent think that the environmental damage caused by carbon emissions could get worse not better.

Levelling up is as much about people as place

As the Government continues to develop its levelling up programme, our survey explored some nuances of place-based thinking. Our citizen survey explored the factors people believe define our opportunities in life. The findings show a complex set of perceptions about social mobility in the UK.

The State of the State 2021/22

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Our research

The State of the State 2021/22 is a report compiled in partnership between Deloitte and Reform. Alongside an Ipsos MORI survey of more than 5,000 members of the UK public on their views of government and public services, we interviewed more than 50 senior public sector figures including permanent secretaries and other senior civil servants, police chief constables, council chief executives, NHS leaders and elected representatives past and present. Together, this blend of quantitative and qualitative data provides a view of the state according to the people who depend on it and the people who run it.

Key contacts

Jayson Hadley

Lead Partner, Government & Public Services UK

Ed Roddis

Director, Public Sector Research