Scots least likely to be impacted by austerity finds ‘State of the State’

The State of the State 2017-18 report carried out on behalf of Deloitte finds Scots least affected by Government spending cuts

A new survey carried out for Deloitte has found that Scots have felt the least effects of government spending cuts, with 77% saying they had felt “not very much” or “no impact at all”. Only 22% said they had felt “a fair amount” or a “great deal” of the impact of austerity.
The survey of 1,071 adults across the UK was conducted by Ipsos MORI and features in The State of the State 2017-18, Deloitte’s annual report on the public finances and the challenges facing public services. The report is produced in conjunction with the think tank Reform.
As part of the report, Deloitte also spoke to a range of public sector leaders in Scotland to gauge the prevailing sentiment among those who lead government services.
Respondents highlighted that their organisations had not felt the full effects of austerity, compared to other parts of the UK; although, they face many of the same challenges – most notably the demand for services rising more quickly than budgets.
Several interviewees said that, without the stimulus of austerity, Scotland’s public services had not been forced to innovate as much as their counterparts in England.
Deloitte’s survey found that:
  • 22% of respondents in Scotland say they have been affected by spending cuts. This compares to 33% nationally, with the UK-wide number up from 27% last year.
  • This compares to 41% of respondents in the North of England saying they have been affected by spending cuts.
UK-wide findings from this survey also included:
  • 63% say that government spending should be increased, even if that means increases to some taxes. This has risen from 59% in the same survey last year. 10% say taxes should be cut even if that means reductions in services, down from 12% last year.
  • 22% say that they support public spending cuts to pay off the national debt. That has fallen from 54% in 2010 at the start of austerity in the UK.
  • When asked to pick two or three areas of public spending that should be protected from any spending cuts, 80% chose the NHS, 49% chose education and schools and 32% chose police.
  • 55% of people recognised that they need to save or make financial plans for their social care, only 44% have thought about making these plans and 35% are currently preparing financially.
Angela Mitchell, ‎Lead Partner for Scotland’s Public Sector, said: “Public clamour for an easing of austerity comes right at the point that the UK reaches the summit of its debt mountain and current spending plans are geared towards paying down both our deficit and the public debt. Squaring this circle will be a particular challenge, particularly as the Chancellor looks ahead to next month’s Budget.
“What’s clear from our interviews with public sector leaders is that, while a rise in taxes may alleviate some pressure, it has to be backed up by fundamental reform. Even in the past year we’ve seen some significant progress in that direction, with organisations driving efficiencies and digitisation. We’re also seeing more services making use of robotics and automation in their back-office functions – the pace of change has really begun to pick up.”
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