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Innovation Learning Exchanges

IPPR North , local government , public services , reform



IPPR North is developing a programme of international learning as part of NESTA’s Creative Councils programme which is offering support to councils to develop and implement radical innovations that meet the challenges of tomorrow. The programme will identify and disseminate good international practice, combining research with events that bring examples of good practice to the UK.

There is need for transformational change in the way local public services are delivered.  For some, the deep cuts to local authority budgets have driven the pursuit of innovation, both in the operation of local authorities and their delivery of reformed local public services.  However, there are a number of deeper, longer term imperatives for transformation, including the need to find solutions to complex social problems that cut across service areas; pressure on services and rising costs as a result of people living longer; new policy challenges such as obesity and climate change; and more consumerist and demanding service users who are less deferential and more accustomed to personalised services in other areas of their lives.

This exchange programme will both be part of and a complementary addition to the Creative Councils programme. It will do this by offering learning from international good practice that all authorities that have applied to the Creative Councils initiative can benefit from whether or not they are shortlisted, while also offering more in depth insight to councils that are successful in their Creative Councils application. Given the level of interest and demand there has been for the Creative Councils programme, we see this twin track approach as helping to maximise the value NESTA is able to offer to councils through this programme.

Some examples of international innovations:

Preventative social care in Seinajoki, Finland: Preventative services for older people

To provide integrated and preventative services for older people, a service centre offering information about services, benefits and recreational activities was created.  A number of services can be accessed directly through the centre. The centre also offers client-based preventative work, whereby trained staff visit older people assess their wellbeing, including physical, social, emotional, and material (the same assessment is made of their carers).  An information and care package is then developed tailored to the needs of the individual.

Caring for Older People in Okuizumo, Japan: Town-wide tele-care

A large proportion of the population is over the age of 65 in this remote and sparsely populated area of Japan, placing a strain on the social welfare system.   Between 2008 and 2010 the local authority installed video phones in 70 per cent of households with occupants aged over 65.  The phones are connected to a central call centre from where support can be provided, enabling people to live independently for longer.  Regular calls are scheduled with users, enabling their wellbeing and condition to be monitored, and building a social relationship and trust.  Other users can volunteer to join the network to make social calls with older people, combatting loneliness.

Changing bureaucratic culture in Iowa, USA: Charter Agencies

Iowa State offered six agencies the opportunity to exercise greater flexibility and authority in exchange for taking responsibility for enhanced efficiency.  Charter Agencies are able to retain 80 per cent of the savings or additional revenue they generate, and half of any year end surplus.  After two years, a number of efficiencies had been achieved, including more income tax returns filed electronically and more former prisoners entering employment.  The Charter Agencies achieved a target of producing $15million in efficiency savings or increased revenue.