The government could save the equivalent of £500 for every person in the UK if it used public data more effectively, a free market think tank has claimed.
Policy Exchange, a London-based think tank with Conservative tendencies, once described by the Daily Telegraph as “the largest, but also the most influential think tank on the right”, has stated that big data analytics could deliver £33bn worth of saving every year. The think tank goes on to state that the government ought to implement a data-focussed unit – or ‘Data Force’ – to help deliver these savings.
In Policy Exchange’s report, entitled ‘The Big Data Opportunity’, the organisation explains how the government would make the cost savings through improving efficiency and eradicating waste while maintaining service levels. Areas such as tax evasion and benefit fraud are pointed to as examples of where more intelligent and effective use of data could save Westminster billions of pounds.
The report states that in total the savings from better use of public big data could range from £16-£33bn through the following means:
• £13bn-22bn by optimising the running of government departments and drive up public sector productivity
• £1-3bn from reducing fraud and error in the benefits system
• £2-8bn from collecting a greater share of unpaid taxes
A further £500m could be saved by using government data to predict the country’s population, rather than carrying out a costly census. Anomalies of tax payments or people exploiting the benefits system, Policy Exchange also explains, would be exposed by using more complex algorithms to mine the government’s massive data sets.
The report’s author Chris Yiu said: “The government will need the capability to conduct analytics effectively, and the courage to pursue this agenda with integrity.
“This is only partly about cutting-edge data science skills. Just as important – if not more so – is ensuring our leaders are literate in the scientific method and confident combining big data with sound judgement.”