By Neil Sartorio, Partner, EY
Doing more with fewer resources is becoming an all too familiar challenge for London’s councils as demand for services rises while budgets remain under constant pressure. Faced with this seemingly intractable problem, how can local authorities deliver better outcomes for residents? In this blog we look at how EY helped to find new answers by supporting innovation, collaboration and emerging technologies.
How did it start?
Our work with London Councils, the membership organisation for the capital’s 33 local authorities, began in 2013. That meant we were ideally placed to support their recent, capital-wide initiative, London Ventures. Its aim: to work across the public, private and third sectors to source and incubate innovation, and by doing so create an ecosystem of partners that could drive sustainable change.
How did EY help?
We worked with a portfolio of market-ready partners – from SMEs to FTSE100 organisations – and linked them with local public service teams to develop products and services that could meet the needs of councils and their residents.
Each partner had to demonstrate how they would generate efficiency savings or new income streams, increase productivity or service delivery, but all with an overall goal of improving outcomes for London residents. We actively promoted our partners to London boroughs through one-to-one introductions and professional networks. Then, we used our knowledge and capabilities to help both sides develop their relationships and agree commercial arrangements.
What were the results?
Commercial partners were able to access and adapt to new markets, while councils could realise the benefits of new technologies, new commercial models and new methods of service delivery. Of the 33 local authorities in London, 25 have worked with at least one of our venture partners, with over 45 implementations during the past five years.
But, most important of all, how did this actually improve the lives of London’s most vulnerable citizens? Here are two examples:
A tech-driven social enterprise worked with councils to use virtual reality (VR) to increase understanding of the trauma and neglect experienced by children in care. After using the immersive technology specifically developed for this purpose, the pilot scheme resulted in 90% of social worker participants saying that this technology will result in changes the type of support they offer to children and their families, and 93% believing that it will help attract the right type of foster carers and adopters.
Another example was a leading provider of data and analytics to the public sector using advanced and predictive analytics to identify vulnerable families and children most at risk of homelessness. This early warning system makes it possible for councils to take action before a situation reaches crisis point, helping families avoid trauma and reducing the need to use up scarce financial resources.
A new model for major challenges
Another strand of London Ventures’ work aimed to foster innovation around specific strategic challenges facing councils and residents. For this we created an incubator model that focussed on a single issue, first defining and understanding the problem then working with partners to find solutions.
One such key strategic priority is homelessness. With support from a cross-sector working group (London boroughs, landlord associations, national charities, and insurance providers) we helped to reduce spending on temporary accommodation across London. This was achieved through a ground-breaking scheme that helps people independently and more easily access the private rental sector, while also removing the need for local authorities to pay cash deposits. EY also led the development of an online pan-London platform for monitoring and allocation of all temporary accommodation placements across the capital.
It’s not all about technology. Innovative, low-cost modular temporary accommodation can rapidly increase supply to address homelessness. Here, led by EY, London boroughs secured £11mn from Mayor Sadiq Kahn for the procurement and build of an initial 200 modular units. These can support over 660 people in the first five years alone and help to reduce the high cost of providing temporary accommodation.
Supporting a better London
We are pleased that our work for London Venture has been recognised by our industry, with EY being named winners in the Innovation in Digital & Technology category and overall project of the year at the 2019 MCA Awards. But, more importantly, we are delighted to use our expertise to help London councils to improve outcomes for their most vulnerable citizens.
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