Chief Secretary hosts AI meeting to boost public sector productivity

John Glen spoke to experts in artificial intelligence to discuss the technology’s potential

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, met with experts in artificial intelligence (AI) today (Wednesday 11 October) to discuss the technology’s potential to drive public sector productivity in a safe and secure way.  

The Chancellor has been clear that public spending cannot continue to outpace growth without people paying more in taxes. To ensure this does not happen he has asked the Chief Secretary to look at ways to boost public sector productivity. The Public Sector Productivity Review will report in autumn.  

Hosting a roundtable of academic and business leaders in the Treasury, the Chief Secretary emphasised that the safe use of AI can be a key driver of productivity growth, saving taxpayers money while improving public services – noting that in 90 per cent of stroke units across England, cutting edge AI tools are already supporting clinicians to treat patients that present with stroke more quickly, halving the time to get treatment and tripling the chances of patients living independently following a stroke.  

The Chief Secretary listened to experts from academia and industry to better understand how companies are already using AI safely to benefit their staff and consumers, including using it to improve customer experiences and how the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has used artificial intelligence to relieve employees of tedious and repetitive tasks, saving staff 25,000 working hours.   

The Chief Secretary asked for opinions on what would be required to implement AI safely and responsibly, noting the UK has attracted £18 billion of private investment since 2016 and is third in the 2022 Government AI Readiness Index and highest in Western Europe, but was placed tenth in the public sector category.  

Chief Secretary to the Treasury John Glen said:  

“If we don’t make our public services more productive, we will be trapped in an unsustainable cycle of spending increases.   

“Through the use of safe AI, we can unchain our nurses, teachers, police officers and civil servants from time consuming admin - freeing them up to help the taxpayer.”  

The Chief Secretary also took part in Google Cloud’s flagship annual event, Google Next London, by delivering a speech on the role of digital transformation, AI and innovation in driving productivity. The event was attended by public sector decision makers and businesses such as Unilever, John Lewis and BT.

HM Treasury