“Change begins now”: what Labour’s win means for UK public services

The pendulum has swung and a new Labour government has achieved a once-in-a-generation shift in power. Now that they have power, what will they do with it - and what does that mean for public services?


What Labour's win means for public services

Three observations:

  1. This was a dramatic vote against the status quo - as the Conservative vote collapsed to a historic low (24%).
  2. There was relatively little enthusiasm for the incoming government - securing a historically low vote share for a winning party (35%), on a historically low turnout (60%). Labour’s share of the vote only increased as a result of the SNP’s collapse in Scotland.
  3. This actually means that Labour’s 2024 majority (or “super majority” as Rishi Sunak would say) could rise higher still come the next election - as there are many more votes a successful Labour government could hope to win.

“We have the chance to repair our public services”

Britain is broken, judging from how 80% of the electorate voted - and there’s wide acceptance of the need to fix income stagnation, lack of housing, NHS waiting lists, crumbling school infrastructure, and the environment.

With taxes the highest for over 70 years, there’s plenty of money - it’s just already been allocated.

Having committed themselves to not raising income tax, VAT or National Insurance the new Labour government has very little room to manoeuvre - and every incentive to go for significant productivity gains within existing spending from operations (Transformation), joined-up-decision-making across the public sector (Data), and a more inclusive approach to service design and delivery (Citizen Experience).

This helps explain why these three pillars of Labour’s “mission-driven government” are the entire focus of Government Transformation Week in November.

GTW Timeline-3

"We have to return politics to public service"

In his victory speech, Keir Starmer stressed the need to restore trust in politics by returning it to public service: “We have to return politics to public service, show that politics can be a force for good. Make no mistake that this is the great test of politics in this era—the fight for trust that is the battle that defines our age.”

Beyond fixing the breakdown in trust that lies at the heart of the social contract, Labour’s manifesto sets out an ambitious blueprint for "mission-driven" government, focused on long-term strategies to drive economic growth, enhance public service delivery, and empower local authorities.

With a commitment to leveraging digital technologies, decentralising power, and ensuring efficient use of resources, Labour's five key missions to rebuild Britain are:

  1. Kickstarting economic growth
  2. Making Britain a clean energy superpower
  3. Taking back the streets by reducing serious crime
  4. Breaking down barriers to opportunity through education reform
  5. Building an NHS fit for the future

Central to these missions is the integration of new technologies to improve efficiency, security, and service delivery across the public sector. The manifesto states, "Digitisation can improve efficiency and enable information sharing, integration, and personalisation of services." Labour aims to meet the expectations of citizens who "increasingly expect a 'digital first' approach."

Labour has already highlighted the importance of data in driving innovation and public service efficiency: "We will create a National Data Library to bring together existing research programmes and help deliver data-driven public services, whilst maintaining strong safeguards and ensuring all of the public benefit," says the manifesto.

This will seek to enhance the value of the UK's data assets, supporting the development of the AI sector and improve public sector decision-making.

Labour’s approach to public service modernisation includes plans to "halve consultancy spend," freeing up significant funds for reinvestment. Additionally, Labour plans to modernise HMRC with increased registration and reporting requirements, strengthened powers, and new technology investments to enhance operational efficiency and reduce tax avoidance.

Execution is everything

With a number of serious problems around prison capacity, social care and local government where the warning lights are already flashing as a result of chronic under-investment - a need to fund investment from a growing economy - and a nation waiting to be won over - expect a busy first 100 days of policy announcements focused on those missions listed above.

There's been a huge change in the parliamentary balance of power - but it’s not change that the UK believes in yet. The new government now has five years to win hearts and minds by delivering the high quality public services the public is demanding.

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