4 Critical Risks Impacting the UK Public Sector in the Next Decade

Piers Kelly
May 17, 2022

The landscape of the UK is fast changing. Although this opens up opportunities, it also presents certain risks and challenges.

risks impacting the public sector

This article will consider critical future trends that could present risks to the UK public sector in the next decade and offer advice on how to mitigate them.

A Breakdown of the Critical Risks Impacting the UK Public Sector

We live in an ever-changing world and the pace of change is increasing. This level of change carries risks and the public sector needs to understand these risks so they can be mitigated.

Here are four of the most critical risks that could impact the UK public sector in the next decade:

Cyber Threats


The Government's 2021 Cyber Security Breaches Survey found that 4 in 10 businesses and a quarter of charities reported having a cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months.

Among those that identified breaches or attacks, around a quarter experienced them at least once a week.

The frequency of cybercrimes is rising and as criminals plot new types of methods of crime, the threats to UK critical infrastructure, businesses and citizens will become widespread.

Mitigating the threats of cybercrime is crucial for many reasons. It’s one of the critical components to maintaining high national security and citizen confidence.

How Can the Government Mitigate this Risk?


To tackle cybercrime, the UK public sector needs to stay one step ahead of the criminals. This can be done by investing in the latest technology solutions and taking a proactive approach to keeping up with trends.

Making this happen starts by building a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy — we’ve covered what one of these looks like here.

Technological Advancements


Technology has sustained the world throughout the pandemic and also redefined the way we work. It’s also had an impact on consumers and the way they shop.

Tech architecture and the need for digital transformation is more important than ever. It’s pivotal for the UK public sector to be at the forefront of this change.

Although technology provides many opportunities, it can also be seen as a threat. Failing to accelerate digital transformation can lead to slower economic growth, increased security risks and lack of innovation.

How Can the Government Mitigate this Risk?


Responding to the risks and challenges of new technology involves exploring new governance structures, tools and processes.

This task calls for a deeper understanding of the social, cultural, economic and geopolitical contexts in which policy, norms and regulations are crafted to shape humanity’s relationships with technology.

In addition to this, gaining public engagement is much needed. The government and companies won’t be able to resolve these different challenges alone.

Environmental Issues


Air pollution, rising sea levels and increased amounts of litter. These are just some of the critical environmental issues covered in the Government's recent ‘State of the Environment Report’.

These challenges were put in the spotlight at the COP26 UN Climate Conference. Countries around the world pledged to focus their efforts on cutting emissions and developing third world countries.

The risks of climate change and other environmental issues are widespread. As these risks worsen, more frequent and intense droughts, storms and heatwaves will take place.

Citizen confidence will drop, too. Three-quarters of adults in Great Britain worry about climate change and want to see action taken to deal with the problem immediately.

How Can the Government Mitigate this Risk?


Emerging technologies will continue to play a vital role in combating climate change. They help to better measure and report on issues such as carbon footprint and rising emissions levels.

Carbon offsetting and offset integration are also crucial for helping both public and private sector organisations meet the target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Rising Skills Shortage

Brexit and the pandemic have contributed to a rising skills shortage in the UK. Recent figures showed that UK job vacancies reached a 20-year high between July and September.

These figures pose a high risk for the public sector over the next decade. Not only is it becoming increasingly difficult to find the right people to take on specific roles but it’s also affecting the economy and citizen confidence.

Staff shortages in sectors have resulted in supply chain disruptions and urged firms to pay people more. As the problem rises, the government must step in and find new initiatives to deal with the skills shortage.

How Can the Government Mitigate this Risk?


The government needs to focus their efforts on supporting UK organisations to provide more learning opportunities for existing employees.

Initiatives such as the Digital Skills Framework are already in place to create the skills needed to push the UK digital economy forward. However, further investment in these types of initiatives is required to overcome the ever-growing skills gap.

Learn More About These Risks and How to Overcome Them at the Cyber Security & Data Protection Summit

Join expert speakers to discover how to build infrastructure resilience and secure the UK's Cyber capabilities to fight domestic and international threats. You can book your spot below.

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