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Making the UK Fairer

What does fairness mean to you? PwC has been exploring the importance of fairness to policy-making and public services. Join the debate #FutureOfGov

In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, we saw an opportunity for the country to focus on what kind of society we want to live in.

Guided by a steering group of experts, in 2019 we listened to views on fairness from business, staff and the UK public. We explored its importance to our way of life, policy-making and accessing public services through an online pop-up community and a survey of over 4000 people.

Our report - Making the UK fairer - sets out the key findings from our research and practical ways to promote fairness in policy-making and public services.


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What did our respondents say about fairness?

Explore some of the views expressed by the more than 4000 people we asked about fairness - who are you most like?


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A framework for fairness

Through our analysis of the public’s priorities and conversations with experts, including our steering group, we have created a framework of five tests for fairness. We believe these could be used by government to test and design public policy in a way that would build a fairer future for the UK.

Provide for fundamental needs

The top public priority for fairness, which we identified through our research, was that “nobody should go without basic needs being met”.

Earn a decent living

The second priority for fairness was that nobody should live in poverty. Public policy design should ensure that people have the opportunity to earn a decent living and that they are prepared for the challenges of the changing world of work.

Close the opportunity gap

Our survey identified a fairness gap that exists between those who feel “the UK treats me fairly” and those who feel “the UK doesn’t treat me fairly”. We also saw significant regional variation in how people feel about fairness.

Give individuals more control

This study demonstrates increasing support for much greater personalisation of services to meet the different needs of individuals. We also discovered a significant appetite from the public to get involved and have more of a say in shaping those services.

Empower communities

Communities need to be empowered to shape the places in which they are based and have a say in how they are designed.

Applying our fairness framework

The next stage of our research explored two priority deep dive topics, looking at how to apply our framework:

How we work
Helping people to earn a living, skills and the future of work.

Where we live
Creating liveable communities: giving people a voice to shape their place.

Our approach has been to listen

Understanding fairness

How is fairness currently defined?

  • We worked with Opinium Research on a public engagement programme. The first stage brought together a group of 23 citizens in a three-day online community. This included a wide range of tasks including open discussions, video diaries and reactions to stimuli.
  • We took a robust and representative snapshot of the nation, polling over 4,000 citizens covering all major demographic, regional, ethnic and political groups.
  • Throughout this research, we have shared our findings and thinking with key groups of experts, including from government, business, civil society and our own people. We invited a group of experts to take part in our online community by reviewing the findings halfway through the tasks and we hosted two events with the Institute for Government to explore how government could improve its spending decisions.

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Public consultation

What does fairness mean to the public?

  • The majority of our survey respondents believe that fairness is about making sure that everyone is given an equal opportunity to achieve, so that everyone gets what they deserve.
  • We found that while perceptions of fairness vary widely across the different regions of the UK, only 30% of our survey respondents agree that British society as a whole is fair. This presents a major challenge to government.
  • Using the capability of Strategy&, PwC's global strategy house, we have analysed the findings of this research to lay out practical steps towards building a fair and inclusive future for the UK.

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What to do about this?

A national mission

  • Addressing these fault lines in UK society is clearly a major challenge but it’s critical that we do so. If the UK is to fulfil its potential in the world, whatever our future relationship with the EU might look like, we need to ensure that everyone can feel heard.
  • Delivering on an agenda of collective wellbeing will require a wholesale transformation of the way the state works – the way money is invested and spent to drive inclusive growth, the way services are designed to solve real problems, and the way the state relates to citizens.
  • To help put the public’s priorities at the heart of these processes, we propose applying the five tests of fairness to new proposals and policies.

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A framework for fairness

Five tests to design public policy in a way that would build a fairer future

  • Provide for fundamental needs, prioritising the vulnerable and those in greatest need
  • Help people earn a decent living and prepare for the future world of work
  • Close the opportunity gap that exists between places
  • Give individuals more control over the services they access
  • Empower communities to shape the places they live

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Steering group

This campaign is supported by an expert steering group chaired by Rt Hon Alan Milburn.

More information about the membership of this group.

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Meet the team

Quentin Cole

Head of Industries, PwC United Kingdom

+44 (0)7770 303846


Andy Lison

Director, PwC United Kingdom


Rachel Taylor

Leader of Industry for Government and Health Industries, PwC United Kingdom

+44 (0)7841 783022


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