Local councils in England will be considering innovative new ways to address the climate crisis, thanks to the latest Design in the Public Sector programme – run by Design Council and the Local Government Association – which opens to applicants today.

Enabling sustainable living, with a focus on climate action is one of Design Council’s three key priorities outlined in its new Strategy 2020-24, alongside improving health and wellbeing, and increasing design skills.  

Now in its sixth year, the 18-week innovation programme will see nine council-led teams, key partners and local people come together to explore local climate change challenges and consider how to create lasting positive change for their communities. Issues will include decarbonising transport, increasing uptake of active travel, improving air quality, and building environmental social value into council governance and processes. 

The DiPS programme forms part of Design Council’s wider work to support the public sector to find innovative ways to reshape the services they provide to local people. We have a strong track record of helping participants develop essential design skillsets and mindsets, which they can apply current and future challenges, and go on to share with others.  

Figures from our recent Impact Report (July 2020) show: 

  • 93% of participants in our public sector innovation programmes last year shared approaches they learnt through the programme with colleagues  

  • 86% of participants find design approaches very relevant to the public sector after the programme 

  • 9 in 10 participants felt that our programmes helped clarify their challenge and made it easier to move forward.  

Design Council’s Chief Executive, Sarah Weir OBE, said: “Th e need to act on the climate crisis is clear. Design plays a crucial role in bringing about real, lasting change – with public sector workers being the ones who can create the conditions for that change. We really look forward to working with local authority teams, teaching them all-important design skills, helping them to imagine new possibilities, and supporting them as they develop innovative ways to protect our precious planet, people and ecosystems.” 

Cllr Peter Fleming, Chairman of the Improvement and Innovation Board, said: “Councils continue to show that they are best placed to innovate and lead on delivering the services their communities depend on. To date, we have supported more than 70 councils and over 350 public sector leaders to adopt design tools and methods through Design in the Public Sector, and we are pleased to offer nine new councils the opportunities to continue on their improvement journey. By working with the Design Council, participants will refocus their challenge around their residents and as a result, are more likely to develop more user appropriate systems and services.” 

Since 2015, DiPS has been delivered in partnership with the LGA for more than 70 local authorities across the UK. Together, they have received almost £400,000 in public funding to work on social challenges. 

Applications for the 20/21 programme are now closed.

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