Below is a list of the most frequently asked questions when councils apply to be part of the Design in the Public Sector Programme. If you have a question that is not covered below, contact us on

Programme Information 

What is the purpose of this programme? 

The Design in the Public Sector programme aims to help local authorities and partner organisations to commission and deliver improvements to services. Through an intensive cohort-based approach, the programme builds an understanding of how design practices can enable local government professionals to shape and deliver improved services. 

How long does the programme run for?

The programme is delivered over 16 weeks so that the teams can develop real-world, live service projects, using strategic design processes and approaches. The programme allows the project you take forward to be reviewed and iterated in order to deliver real impact. The programme consists of five one-day workshops spread over the 16 weeks, with half a day’s mentoring time provided between them. Additionally, your team is expected to take the time it would ordinarily invest in a real-world project.

What is expected of successful applicants? 

It is key that the teams attending are available for each of the five one-day workshops, as well being able to commit the time in-between to take the activities that will help to improve the outcome of the project forward.

Communications and Media 

Can we publicise the fact that we are on the programme? 

Yes, we actively encourage you to share learnings internally within your council and externally via blogs, case studies, social and other suitable media. 

In order for the programme to have a sustainable impact, how much resource will we need to dedicate to learning throughout the programme?

The programme brings up to seven project teams together for five full-day sessions, which provides teams with an introduction to the design process, and its role in public and private sector innovation. Each day of the programme introduces individuals to design-led tools and methods which over the course of the programme will be used in practice for teams to discover, define, develop and ultimately deliver their projects. 

Are we allowed to take photos during the programme? 

Yes, we encourage it. As part of the programme you will be asked to document your journey – this includes writing a case that will provide you with an opportunity to reflect upon the programme, the process Design Council lead you through, the impact the programme has on your chosen projects and the impact of the programme within your council(s). Photography and social media posts can form a part of your journey and add richness to your storytelling.

Practical Information

Who can apply? 

Applications must be local authority-led. However, it is key that partners and providers are involved in the process. Please clarify how you plan to secure their involvement in the process and where possible supply evidence of their engagement and commitment to doing so.

How many hours should participants expect between contact days? 

Typically, each team should work towards matching the contact days of the programme. Therefore one workshop day should mean one day's contact time with your team. This can be split up any way you wish. 

When is the deadline for the application submitted?

You must submit your application before midday, 3 February 2017. 

What is the scale of project challenge? What should the application put forward? 

The challenge needs to be achievable, connected and pertinent to your organisation, and you need to show how you can make an impact using the programme. Ideally, projects put forward should be of importance at local and national level in order to provide peer learning for other organisations. Where possible, your application should have evidence conveying to the panel the scale and strategic nature of the challenge.

Can we submit more than one application? 

Yes, a council can submit more than one application; however each application needs to address a different challenge.

Would you accept joint application from councils?

Yes, you can form a joint application with another council if it provides the opportunity to integrate a meaningful solution. However, you need to show how both councils will see the outcome and benefit from the programme. We also encourage councils to partner with delivery providers. 

Do you have any examples of challenges that we can look at? 

Please explore the LGA website, as well as case studies from previous cohorts

How do I know you have received my application?

You will receive a confirmation email once your application has been received.  

How many people can be in the team?

You need a minimum of four members per team. Applicants must be led by a council partner and the team needs to be council-led. If agencies wish to apply, they must partner with a council.

How to involve partners or providers

We are open to how partners and providers should be involved. This could be through attendance at the workshops or through the activity you take forward in-between the sessions.

How long does each day run for? What are the expected start and finish times?

Each day will run from 9:00-17:30, with an evening networking event on the first day of the programme (16 March).

Where will delivery be held?

All of the programme delivery days will be held at Design Council’s offices located in Islington, London. Angel Building, 407 St John Street, London EC1V 4AB

Location of the half-day members and senior project sponsors briefing on 7 March 2017 will be announced as soon as possible. 

Are the dates for delivery flexible?

No, we therefore encourage you to block out all delivery dates as shown in the application form.

Are participants expected to bring anything along to the delivery days?

No, all materials will be supplied to you on each delivery day. 

Who needs to attend from each local authority? Can it be anyone? 

The programme seeks to work with officers within local authorities who are able to lead and influence such service development and redesign. This means that the programme involves participants from a mix of areas, such as centrally located ‘Business Improvement Teams’ as well as those leading specific areas of commissioning. 

Can the team members change throughout the delivery days? 

No, it is integral to the success of the programme that the core team members make every effort to attend each day of the programme. Naturally, we understand that in unforeseen circumstances this may not be possible. In this instance, we kindly ask each team to arrange another attendee to replace any absent members. 

What ongoing evaluation will there be?

During and after the programme, Design Council will ask you to take impact surveys to measure the progress of your service project. You will also be asked to write a case study as part of the programme. All participants will be surveyed throughout the process and an overall evaluation will be made, taking into account the results of each individual project from each authority, in order for Design Council, the LGA and the councils to share best practice findings.

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