LGA to work with Design Council to tackle social issues

The Local Government Association (LGA) has launched a 16-week programme in partnership with the Design Council to support six local authorities in London with inventing workable solutions to high priority issues affecting their local communities.

Local leaders will work with design experts and stakeholders to deliver improvements and solutions to tough social challenges including managing demand for health and social care, addressing public health issues such as obesity, and improving community cohesion.

The Design in the Public Sector programme, which launched in 2014, was set up to increase the knowledge and use of strategic design skills in local authority public services and to expose local teams to new ways of working to meet their challenges rapidly and effectively.

Cllr William Nunn, chairman of the LGA's Improvement and Innovation Board, said: "We recognise that there is a growing movement of design thinking and innovation in public services and the LGA is keen to equip more councils with the necessary tools and knowledge. As councils' finances continue to get squeezed, we want to enable them to come up with radically different solutions to challenges faced so they can continue to provide excellent services to their communities."

Rona Tanfield from Chelmsford City Council, who took part in the programme last year, said: "The programme has helped Chelmsford City Council to develop solutions to improve the overall traffic position around schools. As every school and nearby resident and parent knows, the problem of parking around schools, and the safety issues that arise from it is an ongoing and contentious issue.

“The programme has helped us to collaboratively explore this issue of traffic around schools in new ways and has improved partner working and had a really positive impact on the community's' attitudes and behaviour towards school parking."

Meanwhile, Clare Chamberlain, director of Children's Services for Westminster City Council, which is hoping to redesign services for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, said: “We are really pleased to be invited to take part in this programme to explore how we can rethink our local offer for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities and their families. There are some great examples of innovation and a huge commitment locally but we know there is more to do to respond to rising demand and changing needs.

“The programme provides a real opportunity for us to work collaboratively with parents and local providers to explore how we can better use technology, physical space and co-delivery with families to develop more integrated and inclusive experiences for young people and families."