Global research charting people’s satisfaction with the way public services are designed to meet their needs has ranked the United Kingdom fifth out of a cohort of 30.
Consultancy Oxford Insights’ first Human-Centred Public Services Index looks to measure nations’ performance in creating public services that work well for users, based on criteria like ease of access, reliability and delivering on promised outcomes.
The United Arab Emirates leads the pack, followed by Singapore, Finland and Canada. The UK lands in the survey’s top 20%, just ahead of New Zealand, Germany, Spain, and Malaysia, and significantly ahead of Japan.
The index brings together five pillars of “service experience”; “accessibility and inclusion”; “public engagement”; “government effectiveness”; and “technical foundations”. Its rankings are drawn from a combination of secondary data and primary research, which includes a survey on around 10,000 citizens’ perceptions of public services in the country where they live.
The UAE’s top ranking confirms its status as leader in applying human-centred design principles to public services.
Oxford Insights’ 90-page report on the findings said the UAE was “considerably ahead of other countries” in the service experience pillar, which assesses the extent how quick, easy and seamless services are to access and use.
The UAE was also said to have excelled in the sections based on residents' feedback.
“Out of all of the countries in the index, the UAE actively prioritises and measures happiness in their programmes and services,” the report's authors said. “So it is perhaps unsurprising that they stand out as leaders in terms of how human centric their public services are from a user perspective.”
Second-placed Singapore came out on top for the “government effectiveness” pillar.
Oxford Insights said the UK had scored “very highly” on webpage and mobile accessibility, driven by GOV.UK's accessibility standards.
But it added that the nation’s placing was “hindered” by the lack of a single integrated login for services across multiple ministries. The report acknowledged that this is now on the Government Digital Service’s agenda.
Oxford Insights research consultant Jasmine Kendall said the index rankings should be a “clarion call” to participating governments to continue improving the quality of their public services.
“If governments are to provide effective services which work for everyone, they should commit to higher accessibility and inclusion standards, and must work more closely with their residents to properly understand and design for people’s priorities,” she said.
Ahmed Sulaye, director at Why5 Research – which worked with Oxford Insights on the index – said the reporrt was the most comprehensive view to date of different governments’ performance in public-service design.