New research commissioned by Microsoft has unveiled a staggering potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to revolutionise the UK public sector by significantly reducing administrative burdens.

The study, conducted by Dr. Chris Brauer from Goldsmiths University, suggests that AI could save more than four hours per week per staff member, translating to a massive 23 million hours saved weekly across the sector.

The report, “Harnessing the Power of AI for the Public Sector,” highlights the severe impact of administrative tasks on public sector workers’ effectiveness and motivation.

Based on a survey of over 1,000 workers, more than half of the respondents indicated that administrative overload detracts from their primary duties, negatively affecting their mental health, job satisfaction, and the quality of services they provide.

Which professions will be impacted?

  • Doctors: AI could save approximately four hours weekly in administrative tasks, totaling 149,596 hours per week across the sector.
  • Nurses: A potential saving of five hours per week per nurse, equating to 1.8 million hours weekly.
  • Teachers: AI could reduce administrative work by two hours weekly, saving 936,742 hours per week.
  • Police Officers: A reduction of 6.5 hours per week in admin tasks, totalling 1.1 million hours weekly.

Administrative Burden and Its Impact:

  • Public sector employees spend over eight hours a week managing information and data.
  • 45 percent feel overwhelmed by unnecessary administrative tasks, adversely affecting their mental health and wellbeing.
  • 55 percent believe excessive admin negatively impacts their job performance, with 54 percent reporting reduced job satisfaction.
  • Nearly half of the respondents (48) said high admin workloads compromise service quality, and 49 percent stated it limits their interaction time with the public or patients.

Dr. Chris Brauer emphasised the transformative potential of AI, stating, “Rapid advances in artificial intelligence mark an inflection point for public sector organisations across the world. Generative AI and large language models (LLMs) have the transformative potential to reshape government operations and redefine the future of public service delivery.”

Recommendations for Government Action

The report outlines seven strategic recommendations for the next government to enhance AI adoption in the public sector:

  1. Establish a National AI Delivery Centre: Centralise AI adoption efforts within Whitehall, leveraging expertise from government, academia, and industry.
  2. Declare ‘AI for All’ Principles: Ensure all public sector employees benefit from AI while being protected from potential risks.
  3. Implement a Comprehensive Upskilling Strategy: Foster continuous learning and innovation across the public sector workforce.
  4. Unlock the Power of Public Sector Data: Modernise data infrastructure to facilitate seamless AI integration.
  5. Reimagine Procurement Processes: Prioritise AI technologies in procurement policies, adhering to ethical standards.
  6. Accelerate Local Government AI Adoption: Support local authorities in scaling successful public-private partnership models.
  7. Maximise Economic Opportunities: Strategically invest in AI technologies to drive economic growth and improve public services.

Hugh Milward, Vice President of External Affairs at Microsoft UK, highlighted the broader implications: “The recommendations outlined in our report highlight the immediate benefits of AI for the public sector and also underscore the long-term economic gains of a successful AI roll-out. By acting now and strategically investing in AI, the UK can position itself as a global leader in AI innovation, driving economic growth and improving public services for all citizens.”

 

 

 

 

Avatar

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.