The UK wants to unlock public service productivity with AI

The UK Treasury’s Productivity Programme research “has revealed huge opportunities to cut admin, safely harness AI and deliver early interventions to relieve pressure on public services.”

Public servants are the backbone of services that millions of UK citizens use every day. However, instead of delivering those services, public servants often spend a lot of their time doing admin.

The research found that as much as a day of teaching is lost every week as teachers try to keep up with their admin.

The Home Office will publish a series of recommendations today including how AI can be used to handle routine admin tasks. These measures could save 5 hours a week of a teacher’s time and could save police up to 38 million hours per year, or 750,000 hours every week.

That’s the equivalent of adding an extra 20,000 police officers to the force simply by having AI handle things like data entry and reporting.

And the potential for AI in the public sector isn’t just measured in hours. The report said that “the potential productivity benefits from applying AI to routine tasks across the public sector are estimated to be worth billions.”

AI is already being used

Besides future implementations, AI is already being used by UK teachers and NHS healthcare workers.

The UK government is running a pilot AI-powered lesson planner and quiz builder to which thousands of teachers have signed up already.

Patients at 90% of England’s stroke units are benefiting from cutting-edge AI tools. These tools are helping clinicians to treat stroke victims in half the time, tripling the chances of a patient being able to live independently following a stroke.

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.”

Hunt said that this problem will be addressed by “safely introducing new technology like AI. This will deliver happier workforces, better public services and a stronger economy. ”

Using AI to improve productivity sounds like a great idea but the UK government has also been criticised for misuse of AI in its public sector.

The concern over AI taking the jobs of humans is another valid concern. However, AI is likely to make many of our jobs a lot easier, and workers more productive, rather than replacing them completely for now.

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