Five Things you Probably Didn’t Know About the Public Sector

Why do you work in the public sector?

  • to make a difference and help the community
  • for the working conditions
  • the breadth of opportunities available
  • job security
  • flexible working
  • the pension scheme
  • access to training and professional development

Some of the biggest employers in the UK are in the public sector and in total over 6 million Britons work in this sector. Schools, councils and emergency services are at the forefront, but there are also many scientific posts and research positions to be found.

So even if you already work in the public sector, is there anything you don’t know?

  1. The NHS now employs one in every 20 working people in the UK

In December 2018 the NHS employed more than 1.6 million people in the UK. That’s more than 30% of all people employed in the public sector and over 5% of all people in paid work in the UK. It’s also the fifth biggest employer in the world, behind the US Department of Defense, the Chinese Army, Walmart (which includes Asda in the UK), and McDonald’s.

  1. When you call 999, it might be a charity that comes to take you to hospital

How much do we understand about what charities actually do? They compete against companies in the private sector for large-scale public service contracts. With the government’s continued austerity cuts pushing more charities towards delivering these contracts, and away from grant funding, how many of the services we rely on are now run by the charitable sector?

  • ambulance services
  • housing
  • legal or advocacy advice
  • health and social care
  • child sexual exploitation services
  • probation services
  • community transport
  • therapy and mental health services
  • search and rescue
  • sexual health services
  1. Their data isn’t as good as you’d hope

There are a lot of things that the public sector doesn’t know about themselves. For example, the location of all the emergency response equipment in the UK, from ambulances to defibrillators is scattered across local authorities and service providers. And there is no single list of all public sector entities and how much they are spending.

  1. There are 650 MPs elected to the House of Commons

502 of them are men; 148 are women. Despite there being 650 MPs, the chamber has only 427 seats.

  1. We write our laws on £80,000 animal skins

There was outcry earlier when it was suggested that UK laws could be written on archive paper, as opposed to vellum paper, as a cost saving exercise. Vellum is a combination of goat and calf skin which lasts for up to 500 years. After MPs protested, calling for a “safeguarding of our great traditions”, the Cabinet Office offered to pay the cost of continuing to use vellum.

So, why did you look for a role in the public sector? We’d love to hear.

If you would like to discuss any of the details you have read in this blog, please email

Social Media

For training updates and other interesting content, follow our Twitter Page @UModernGov