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London councils tackle social issues with design experts

The Design in the Public Sector programme, which will be launched in London over the coming months, is aiming to introduce solutions to social issues. It hopes to tackle problems such as homelessness, home care and help for looked after children, by offering training and support to local councils to help them implement design thinking.

The programme is a partnership between the Local Government Association (LGA) and Design Council. It will run for 16 weeks and support six local authorities; the aim is to develop workable solutions to the issues that have the most impact in their local communities.

The Design in the Public Sector programme 

The programme was launched in 2014 to offer local teams and councils insights into new ways of working, introducing practical and creative methods to meeting challenges and targets.

Councillor William Nunn, Chairman of the LGA's Improvement and Innovation Board said: "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.”

In the Design in the Public Sector programme, design experts will work closely alongside local leaders to reframe and identify key local challenges. London will join more than 54 local authorities in England who have already seen the benefits of the programme; some of which have improved and addressed public health issues including obesity.

Workable solutions 

One of the main takeaways of the programme is that it teaches local council teams to apply a new method of design thinking to issues to ascertain whether people have the right information, advice and support for the challenges they face.

Clare Storey, from Coventry City Council, said: “Learning how to use tools to better understand our customers experience enabled us to come up with a design led recommendation for change. By simply introducing calling cards we can ensure our customers get to the right person quickly. We now use a variety of the tools, for example the problem statement and the service safari, to approach service design here at Coventry."

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