Former PM Blair pushes AI adoption to save UK public sector billions

A person holding out their hand with a digital AI symbol.
(Image credit: Shutterstock / LookerStudio)

Former British prime minister Tony Blair has urged the newly elected Labour government to exploit the “truly revolutionary” potential of artificial intelligence.

In a new report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change entitled ‘Governing in the Age of AI: Reimagining the UK Department for Work and Pensions,’ the former PM envisions AI improving efficiency and productivity in the public service sector.

Addressing the Future of Britain Conference, hosted by his institute, Blair highlighted several policy proposals designed to free up £12 billion annually by the end of the current parliamentary term.

Tony Blair is a big AI advocate

Blair, who served for a decade spanning 1997 to 2007, emphasized the critical need for growth and productivity improvements, asserting: “The simple and unavoidable truth is that unless we improve growth and productivity, and drive value and efficiency through our public spending, we’re going to become poorer.”

The report describes artificial intelligence as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” that must be seized. In the DWP alone, it is estimated that AI could help save workers two-fifths (40%) of their time, equating to an annual saving of nearly £1 billion a year.

Rising benefit claimants and a reduction in the DWP staff-to-claimant ratio have also contributed to a backlog of more than 330,000 new claims, which Blair suspects could be tackled with an injection of AI.

Looking ahead, Blair is calling on the newly formed government to address DWP inefficiencies with three ambitious goals: reducing backlogs to zero within one year; digitizing job center operations; and turning the DWP into an “AI exemplar” for other departments.

Despite acknowledging the scale of the ambitions, Blair’s institute believes that, with the technology available to us today, Britain can realize AI’s potential in addressing inefficiencies across the board.

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!