Homelessness, homecare and help for looked after children are just a few of the challenges London councils will be addressing over the coming months when the Design in the Public Sector programme launches in the capital.

The 16-week programme, delivered in a partnership between the Local Government Association (LGA) and Design Council, will support six local authorities in London to come up with workable solutions to high priority issues affecting their local communities.

Design experts will work with local leaders and stakeholders to explore evidence and reframe key local challenges. They join 48 other local authorities in England who have already benefited from the programme and delivered 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.

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.

Cllr William Nunn, LGA

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 enable them to do something practical to meet their challenges in a relatively short period of time.

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”

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.

Clare Chamberlain, Westminster City Council

Westminster City Council, one of the six councils taking part this month is hoping to redesign services for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Clare Chamberlain, Director of Children's Services for Westminster, said she was excited to get started:

“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”.

The London programme officially started on 16 March 2017 and will conclude in July 2017. 

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