The citizens’ perspective on creating a fair and inclusive future
May 29, 2019
The British state is characterised as a distant next door neighbour, who you might ‘occasionally take a parcel in for but don’t speak to much.’ This is what members of PwC’s online ‘pop-up community’ of 30 broadly representative UK citizens told us when we asked them about their interactions with government. They told us they want to see the relationships between government, business and the people transformed to create a fairer future for the country.
While Brexit continues to dominate politics and media, our conversations with business across the country and citizens (including our staff), show that people are keen to talk about how government and business can work together to build a better and more inclusive future for the UK. Our Chairman Kevin Ellis wrote about this in the Daily Telegraph recently.
Our team wanted to understand what constitutes fairness in the eyes of the public and what’s needed from government (and business) to create a fully inclusive future for the UK. So building on our previous work with Citizens’ Juries, we are working with Opinium to use an innovative online ‘pop up community’ to canvas the views of the public. Participants shared their views by recording video diaries and sharing their stories through online discussion forums.
With the 2019 Spending Review on the horizon, we focused the public on three areas on the minds of those working across Whitehall - how government and public service providers need to transform to meet the myriad changes that will face post-Brexit UK.
These three areas are firstly, the role of place in unlocking future economic potential and transforming public services (where we live). Secondly, what government should consider to ensure workforce changes give the UK a fairer future (how we work) and thirdly, what’s needed to deliver personalised public services by using new technology pioneered by tech companies (how we access services)?
Citizens clearly saw an active role for government in shaping a fair and inclusive future. There was recognition that those in need will require greater support than what’s currently available in today’s society. Unfairness and social disparity were seen to be increasing, with a greater divide between the haves and have-nots.
The online community articulated priorities for future fairness. They felt equality of opportunity was most important when it comes to the following fundamentals - food, shelter, healthcare and education. As the public looked towards 2050, they envisioned technology having a positive and transformative effect on education, healthcare and employment and felt future generations would embrace fairness in a way that their predecessors hadn’t.
I think we have a role to play in leading the change to address these challenges that the public have posed. We have started doing some work to address these issues, such as our Technology Degree Apprenticeships and opening an Assurance Centre in Bradford, the UK’s youngest city, with the aim of creating over 200 job opportunities over the next few years.
We know from this research that the public wants to see collaboration taking place, including between government, businesses and the people of the UK, to tackle sources of unfairness head on. We will work to delve into this deeper, and understand what these sources of unfairness are and get a clearer defined understanding of what fairness means to the general public.
Our aim through the research is to help answer the question ‘What role should the government play to make the UK a fair and more inclusive country?’ We will be looking at what we at PwC can do to play our practical part in solving these challenges we face as a nation, but we are also keen to hear from the general public. Please do share your thoughts and comments with me or below.
Watch this space for our next blog with more on what is emerging from our research.