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London councils join Design Council scheme to address major social issues

Councils in London will work with design experts as part of a new programme aiming to help authorities address problems with homelessness, homecare and help for looked-after children, amongst other social issues.

The Design Council programme, called Design in the Public Sector, will last for 16 weeks in order to support six local authorities in the capital to come up with workable, practical issues to some of the most pressing issues affecting local communities in the region.

The authorities who will benefit from the programme include:

  • London Borough of Redbridge: Reducing temporary accommodation and homelessness
  • Westminster City Council: Redesign of services for children with special educational needs and disabilities
  • Islington Council: Identifying and testing new pathways to support adults facing multiple disadvantages 
  • Brent Council: Reducing demand for 'Looked After Children' placements and redesigning the planning system
  • Hackney Council: Improving support for tenants in the Private Rented Sector
  • London Borough of Haringey: Redesigning the model of support for young care leavers andImproving homecare to maximise independence of service users and reduce demand through integration of heath, care and community provision

Cllr William Nunn, chairman of the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board, said that his organisation is keen to equip more councils with the tools and knowledge to come up with innovative ways to solve problems.

“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,” he added.

Westminster City Council, one of the six councils taking part in the scheme, is hoping to redesign services for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Clare Chamberlain, its director of children’s services, 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.”

Chamberlain added that there was now a real opportunity for the council to work collaboratively with parents and local providers to explore how to use technology, physical space and co-delivery with families better to develop more integrated and inclusive experiences for young people and families.

The six London councils will join a list of 48 other authorities nationwide who have already benefitted from the scheme and have delivered improvements and solutions to a variety of challenges, including managing health and social care as well as addressing problems such as obesity.

One of these councils, Chelmsford City Council, was able to develop solutions to improve the traffic position around schools thanks to the programme.

Roma Tanifield, one of its councillors, said: “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.”

Ellie Runcie, Design Council’s director of growth and innovation, writes about the programme in the upcoming issue of PSE, which will hit desks in early April.

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