Ex-business secretary hits out at ‘middle rank’ of employees as productivity languishes
Tens of billions of pounds in additional funding will be required to keep public services running this year because of a collapse in productivity that experts blamed on weak management and working from home.
Public sector productivity fell 1.3pc in the three months to September compared with the previous quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This compares with a 0.1pc increase in output per hour across the economy over the same period.
It means productivity in the public sector is 7.4pc below pre-pandemic levels, compared with a 1.6pc increase in the equivalent economy-wide measure.
Doug McWilliams, founder of the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), said the collapse in productivity suggested spending on public services would be £73bn higher this year than if public sector productivity had climbed at its pre-pandemic rate.
Mr McWilliams said the pandemic had enabled unproductive staff to get away with doing less work.
“I think it’s a combination of weak management practices and working from home which has made it very difficult to get that part of the labour force that’s working at home to be productive,” he said.
“In the private sector, there has been some drag on productivity from working from home, but it’s not huge. And people in the private sector often end up working more hours anyway because of the time they save travelling.”