As Beth Simone Noveck, the former aide to Barack Obama, said: “What business do you know, what other sector of the economy, and especially one as big as the public sector, that doesn’t seek to reinvent its business model on a regular basis?”
Public services must reinvent and remodel themselves to deal with all challenges, especially future ones. One of the biggest future challenges is demographic bulges, the most notable being an ageing population. Over the next 20 years the population aged 65-84 will rise by 39%, and those over 85 by 106%. Due to an increased fiscal burden and a lengthy period of austerity under the Conservatives, the UK currently finds itself without the immediate capacity to deal with this, and services such as the NHS are now reaching breaking point.
It’s also not just healthcare. In 2016, there were an estimated 308 people of a pensionable age for every 1,000 people of a working age. By 2037, this is projected to increase to 365 people. An ageing population also means more bus passes, winter fuel allowances, and bereavement benefits. So how does the UK address this demographic bulge in terms of public services?
Of course, we need to be investing in technologies and innovations to improve our public services, but we must also think about how this is intrinsically connected to the demographic bulge. The improvement in technologies, the rise of smartphones, and anytime, anywhere access to information can help to revolutionise public services, make them more accessible, affordable, and simplistic, but it must meet the needs of the public it serves.