Ealing: helping residents self-serve

Ealing Council used behavioural insights to empower families likely to become homeless to look for a new home themselves.

Efficiency and income generation

The London Borough of Ealing co-designed a new approach with housing staff that incorporated behavioural insights and nudge techniques.

The aim was to design face-to-face interaction with Housing Officers that would encourage families  likely to become homeless (typically due to eviction or a breakdown of an existing household), to take control of their situation and look for a new home for themselves.

The ‘Reframing First Contact’ pilot consisted of an advice session – essentially a conversation – employing a number of materials, among them:

  • a script for officers to use
  • a leaflet shown by Customer Services Advisors to callers, to help residents frame the conversation. This helps identify people who are eligible for the pilot
  • a tablet computer with a front page of hyperlinks to the most useful sites/pages when searching for a home
  • an action plan for residents to take away. These tools and materials supported the following process steps:

Over a four month period, from November 2014 to February 2015, the vast majority of residents who took part in the pilot agreed to look for a home themselves (31 out of 34). After three months, only two of the original pilot group had requested a further service from the housing team.

This suggests that behavioural insights can be a helpful tool in changing the nature of the conversation with customers and enabling residents to take control of their situation, where they are able to.

Download the full case study