The LGA Behavioural Insights Programme supports councils to implement new initiatives that improve their services and increase efficiency, helping local residents to make positive changes. The programme is facilitated by the LGA and enables councils to use behavioural science to solve common challenges for local government.
The Local Government Association – or LGA – Behavioural Insights Programme helps councils implement new initiatives that improve their services and increase efficiency, helping local residents to make positive changes. The programme is facilitated by the LGA and enables councils to use behavioural science to solve common challenges for local government. The LGA supports the growth of knowledge, capability and expertise of behaviour change through projects like this one in Havering.
They were looking for a new way to save money and reduce household waste, so they applied to take part in the programme and with our help they set to work. The council's research told us that reducing the amount of general waste local residents threw away would require lots of small behavioural changes and the breaking of bad habits. So, they sent residents a booklet full of waste-saving tips along with rubbish bags and handy clips to reduce their household waste, then, challenged local residents to throw out just two bags of rubbish a week. The beauty of this challenge is that everyone knows who’s winning. The trial was a success, with 39 per cent more households filling only two or less bags of rubbish each week. This equated to a huge annual reduction of rubbish, saving Havering Council an estimated £262,000 – and less waste is better for the planet.
Down the road in the New Forest, the council wanted to reduce litter along the coast. By speaking to local residents, they gathered insights on how big the problem was. So, to stop people dropping litter, they've devised an ad campaign and dispensed rubbish bags, giving everyone somewhere to put it. In one month, litter in the area was down by 29 per cent.
That's a staggering 10.8 tonnes, which saved the council an estimated £10,000 and, better than that, more people could enjoy coastal walks. Over in Knowsley, the council's adult social care team was trying to help people to live safely and independently at home by providing assistive technology. Research found that people weren't signing up for the service because they didn't understand what assistive technology (AT) is.
So, the council developed a simple leaflet to explain AT and how it could support their care needs. Health and social care staff were also given a one-hour AT briefing and information leaflets to help them promote the service. This activity increased AT referrals and installations, helping more people live safely and independently at home. Up in Yorkshire and Humber, a consortium of six councils wanted to improve general health and the local environment by nudging people away from using their cars.
So, they wrote a questionnaire asking drivers why they should walk and cycle more, especially for journeys that only take 20 minutes on foot. This encouraged drivers to set healthy and green goals they could achieve by swapping their car for active travel. In no time, 1,000 participants had clocked up the equivalent of 7,384 fewer journeys a year. This would save over two tonnes of CO2, which is more than 100 trees could consume in a year.
And that's great for the environment and health across the country. A stone's throw away, Derbyshire County Council wanted to improve their cost of living support and help people in financial difficulties manage their money. But the referral process was too confusing, so they streamlined it to help more people get the help they need. The key insights told the council they needed to increase the quality of referrals, and work closer with Citizens Advice to refer more people.
The results were impressive, over £266,000 of financial help was provided to over 300 callers to Citizens Advice. That's an average of £887 per referral. It also helped the council forge a closer partnership with Citizens Advice, which helps everyone. Over in Lincolnshire, the public health team wanted to encourage people in deprived areas to get screened for bowel cancer. But the message wasn't getting through. So they asked five GP practices to send follow up letters to patients who'd been invited to a screening but hadn't attended.
asking how they'd feel if they were diagnosed too late. Tough reading. The letters brought in 26 times more screening kits, helping to stop the escalation of the illness. Down in Kent, the council's community safety team wanted to help more victims of domestic abuse find the support they need. Research highlighted that these people feel the need to be guarded and don't answer calls from unknown numbers.
So, the team designed a discreet business card that carried clear instructions and reassurances like: “The victim support team will call from a withheld number” which could be shared and safely stowed away. This activity saw an increase of 3.6 in requests for support, enabling the council to help more vulnerable people in need. Up in Cheshire, the council wanted to help men to improve their wellbeing.
They collected insights through a trial, and recruited 90 men for a wellbeing challenge who completed a questionnaire about their wellbeing and received one or two weekly texts to check how they were. Six weeks later, two in three men had done something to help their wellbeing and half the cohort had accessed information or support. That's something we can all feel good about.
The Local Government Association is the national voice of local government. To learn more about our Behavioural Insights Programme, visit our website or drop us an email. LGA – the voice of local government.