Shining examples of innovation
The 2010 LGC Awards shone a light on how the local government sector has risen to today’s challenges
All best practice started somewhere, usually with a council officer frustrated by a problem and coming up with an original idea to tackle it.
As the legal, financial and political environment changes so does the nature of the challenges, but the need for creativity in solving them remains.
While everyone is - or ought to be - implementing accepted best practice, a select few will be developing tomorrow’s versions, which other councils will follow.
The LGC Awards 2011 are about recognition for finding out which new approaches work best and then sharing them with colleagues across local government.
It might be that something apparently familiar to one council will prove to be so radical elsewhere that it might be a winner.
The following were among the ideas that won in 2010:
Hammersmith & Fulham LBC - Council of the Year
Hammersmith & Fulham LBC was praised by the judges for “doing something very special in challenging times” by being a leader in finding ways to deliver more for less. It has cut council taxes while improving services and achieving increased resident satisfaction.
Bournemouth BC - Regeneration
Boscombe had become a very faded seaside area in the resort. The council sold land for residential developmental and invested the proceeds in regeneration, including Europe’s first artificial surf reef and beach huts designed by Wayne Hemingway. Employment has risen while antisocial behaviour has declined.
Cheshire West and Chester Council - Personalisation and choice
This new unitary took forward the Putting People First programme by encouraging direct payments to service users to give them more control over their care packages. A social enterprise was also created to manage two assisted living centres and an equipment service.
Croydon LBC - Efficiency and transformational government
Spending on adult social care was cut by £1.03m while the number of people helped rose by 600 to 4,200 by switching funding into prevention. The programme depends on extensive use of technology to help people live in their own homes for longer than would otherwise be possible.
Essex CC - Legal
The recession was threatening the county’s economy and the council was unsure whether it could rely on the ‘wellbeing power’ to help. Legal officers worked to establish its limits and the council was able to set up a bank to make loans to small businesses. It also supported the reopening of post offices.
Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority - Sustainable environment
Different recycling policies spread among the conurbation’s districts had hampered efforts to reduce the amount of material being sent to landfill. Public consultation resulted in a recycling-based disposal system and a 25-year private finance contract, which will divert the most waste in the country from landfill.
Hackney LBC - Employee engagement
Good practice in engaging employees at each step has helped Hackney move from being close to government intervention a decade ago to enjoying high satisfaction now. Initiatives included greater emphasis on staff training and development.
Hackney LBC - Children’s services
An ‘adequate’ service has been transformed by the ‘reclaim social work’ programme, which aims to allow social workers to spend the maximum time pursuing their profession by relieving them of administrative burdens. They also work alongside more experienced colleagues before being entrusted with case management.
Hull City Council - Most improved council
Hull moved from a ‘poor’ to a ‘three-star’ Audit Commission assessment in seven years by paying close attention to workforce engagement and morale, and gaining high resident satisfaction ratings.
Hull City Council - Public private partnerships
This award went to One Hull Local Strategic Partnership, in which the council and more than 50 other local private and voluntary organisations managed to sharply reduce the numbers of young people not in education, employment or training.
Redbridge LBC - Finance
Redbridge won this award for the consistently excellent performance of its finance service and its role in council-wide innovations. The service helps other departments accomplish goals, rather than telling them why things cannot be done. It facilitated the Redbridge Conversation, an online consultation on spending that drew 5,000 responses.
Sandwell MBC - Procurement
Money was leaking out of Sandwell’s economy as regeneration funds went to goods and services from elsewhere. The ‘finditinsandwell’ website has allowed the area’s small manufacturing businesses to advertise their needs and increase their trade with each other, stimulating the local economy.
Sevenoaks DC - Management team
A dire financial situation was turned round and performance simultaneously improved by rethinking the whole idea of how a council is run. This approach emphasises the empowerment of staff so that service heads become ‘mini managing directors’ who can take responsibility for resolving the public’s problems.
Southampton City Council - Community involvement
At the end of the academic year, when students left the area where most of them lived, a great deal of rubbish, discarded furniture and electrical goods were left behind. A campaign by the council, university and a local church has ensured that most is now recycled or reused by local charities.
Sunderland City Council - Innovation
Young people complained they had no facilities at weekends and hung around in public places, which led to some antisocial behaviour. The council developed travelling youth clubs that visit different districts on Friday and Saturday evenings, offering music, street dance and sport, and attract up to 150 young people each night.