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Chancellor to cut admin workloads to free up frontline staff

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The Chancellor will set out the case for reform across public services to unlock productivity

  • Productivity Programme reveals some public servants waste a whole working day each week on admin.    
  • New tech and cutting admin workloads would save millions of working hours, including around 750,000 policing hours every week.  
  • Al already helping NHS treat stroke victims and build high-quality lesson plans for teachers.

The Chancellor will set out the case for innovation and reform across public services to unlock productivity as a new review finds that some public servants are forced to waste a day each week on administrative tasks.    

Improvements being considered could free up over 38 million police hours each year – almost 750,000 hours every week - for police officers to perform frontline duties and cut a teacher’s workload by up to five hours a week.     

An update to the Treasury’s Public Sector Productivity Programme, which will be published in the Autumn Statement, has revealed huge opportunities to cut admin, safely harness AI and deliver early interventions to relieve pressure on public services.    

Ahead of a visit to a Blue Light Hub which brings together police, ambulance and fire services, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt said:    

Our public servants are among the best in the world, but we don’t help them or taxpayers when a day every week is wasted on admin.    

We must do better by cutting admin, preventing problems before they emerge and safely introducing new technology like AI. This will deliver happier workforces, better public services and a stronger economy.    

The Productivity Programme brings together expertise from the world of technology, business and public service. Recognising the challenges facing public services in the UK as the population changes in the coming years, it found three areas for improvement: workforce; AI and new technology; and prevention. 

Workforce    

The Chancellor has already announced a Civil Service Numbers Cap, which will save taxpayers £1 billion during the current spending period, and a review of equality and diversity spending in the Civil Service is also underway.   

There are large opportunities for reform in the shape, size and culture of public services, but there are opportunities to go further. Some public servants spend up to 8 hours every working week on administrative tasks. While some of these tasks are needed, others are not and take time away from NHS staff treating the sick and police officers catching criminals. There has already been progress in identifying the specific tasks public servants perform and finding ways to ease the burden, with expert taskforces looking at the police and teaching professions.   

The Home Office will publish a series of recommendations on Monday (20th November) that could save police up to 38 million hours per year and 750,000 hours every week, as part of the independent Police Productivity Review. That is the equivalent of an additional 20,000 police officers’ time. These proposals range from building on recently introduced measures that cut unnecessary bureaucracy to driving greater productivity through the adoption of new and improved technology. The recommendations are intended to divert police time back to their primary priorities of keeping the public and our streets safe.   

The Government also has an ambition to reduce teacher workload by up to 5 hours each week within the next three years, particularly through helping teachers cut down on tasks like lesson planning, inputting data or marking, which will improve recruitment and retention – and ultimately raise pupil outcomes.    

AI and new technology    

The potential productivity benefits from applying AI to routine tasks across the public sector are estimated to be worth billions. But while the UK was placed third in the Government AI Readiness Index and has attracted over £18 billion of private investment since 2016, it sits tenth in the public sector category.    

The Chancellor wants to seize the opportunity presented by safely introducing AI. Across England, 90 percent of stroke units are now using cutting-edge AI tools to help clinicians treat stroke patients more quickly, halving the time it takes to receive treatment and tripling the chances of a patient living independently following a stroke.    

Thousands of teachers have already signed up to a pilot AI-powered lesson planner and quiz builder – backed by £2 million in government funding – which marks the first step towards providing every teacher with a personalised AI lesson-planning assistant.     

The Productivity Programme will go on to consider how AI can be used to improve public services safely ahead of the spring.    

Prevention   

The update also highlights the need to relieve pressure on public services in the face of demographic changes, such as an ageing population.  

The Government has published the first-ever Long-Term Workforce Plan for the NHS, charting a path to an NHS fit for the future. Prevention is a key part of this plan, with a greater focus on care in the community, mental health provision and other ways of supporting people before they require hospital care. £150 million has been invested up to April 2025 to better support people experiencing – or at risk of experiencing – mental health crises to receive care and support in more appropriate settings outside of A&E, helping to ease pressures facing the NHS.  

The Government will also publish the first-ever national kinship care strategy at the end of the year, in recognition of the crucial support kinship carers provide for some the most vulnerable children. There will also be a dedicated training and support programme and the establishment of peer support groups for kinship carers, backed by £9 million in funding and alongside a £47 million programme to help more children stay in loving stable homes, including with kinship carers.  

Home Secretary, James Cleverly said:    

I am committed to keeping the British public safe, so if that means removing red tape from policing, that is the action I will take.     

We have already made a start by cutting bureaucracy and reducing the time officers spend attending mental health callouts that should not require a policing response, but we must go further.     

I will work with the police to consider how we can take the review’s other recommendations forward.    

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott said:    

Improving schools, hospitals and our justice system isn’t always about reaching for the spending tap. By safely wielding new technology, cutting down bureaucracy and tackling issues earlier, we can improve morale and performance – while ensuring our public services are ready for the challenges of tomorrow.   

The Productivity Programme will continue to engage with industry experts, academics, public sector organisations in the UK and other governments ahead of the spring. This will drive the Government’s approach to increasing public sector productivity growth, which is needed to prevent the state growing ever-larger – paid for by increased borrowing and tax.

Notes to editors:

  • The Productivity Programme update will be published as part of the Autumn Statement.    
  • The recommendations from the Police Productivity Review will be published on Monday 20th November. The Home Office will formally respond in the new year.    
  • The Teacher Workload Reduction Taskforce recommendations will be published in due course.
Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/home-office

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-to-cut-admin-workloads-to-free-up-frontline-staff

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