Design Council to work with London boroughs on social issues

Homelessness, public health and childcare are just some of the challenges six London boroughs are looking to tackle by taking part in the Design in the Public Sector scheme.

Six London boroughs including Westminster and Hackney have signed up to the Design Council’s Design in the Public Sector programme, which will help them tackle issues affecting their local communities ranging from homelessness to healthcare.

Design in the Public Sector was launched by the Design Council in 2014 with the aim of exposing local public services to new strategic design skills in order to deal with social problems more efficiently.

The latest 16-week programme has been launched in partnership with the Local Government Association (LGA), and will focus on the London Borough of Redbridge; Westminster City Council; Islington Council; Brent Council Hackney Council; and London Borough of Haringey. They join 48 other local authorities in England who have taken part since 2014.

“Growing movement of design thinking in public services”

Chairman of the LGA’s improvement and innovation board councillor William Nunn, says: “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.”

Design experts will work with local leaders and other stakeholders in the councils on different local challenges, such as reducing temporary accommodation and homelessness in Redbridge and improving support for tenants in the private rental sector in Hackney.

Westminster will focus specifically on the redesign of services for children with special educational needs and disabilities in order to respond to a “rising demand and changing needs”, says Clare Chamberlain, director of children’s services for the borough.

“The programme provides a real opportunity for us to work collaboratively with parents and local providers to explore how we can better use technology [and] physical space…with families to develop more integrated and inclusive experiences for young people and families,” adds Chamberlain.

Runs until July 2017

Brent Council will look to reduce demand for “looked after children” placements, where children are in the care of local authorities for longer than 24 hours, as well as redesigning its planning system.

In Haringey, local officials will work with designers to redesign services for young people who have left local authority care, and improve homecare models by integrating health, care and community provisions.

Finally, Islington Council is looking to explore new ways of supporting adults facing multiple disadvantages, such as homelessness and mental health problems.

The current Design in the public Sector programme will run until July 2017. Read about the Design Council’s preliminary findings for the first 18 months of the programme here.

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