Headlines: March 24th, 2009

An “impressive amount” of innovative activity across local government has been praised in a joint report from three public bodies.

The report, More than good ideas, has been published by the Improvement and Development Agency for local government (IDeA), the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and the Beacon Scheme. It sets out a range of views on public sector innovation, from councils, academics and the third sector.

Launching the report, Lucy de Groot, Executive Director of the IDeA and Jonathan Kestenbaum, Chief Executive of NESTA, said: “The pressure is on for all parts of government to deliver significantly better outcomes, for significantly lower costs. Local government is on the front line for these issues, with the pressure of council tax so visible to the public. In this climate, the need to innovate is more important, rather than less so.”

The aim of the report is to stimulate debate about the importance of innovation to delivering local public services, with contributions covering areas including social care, education, community cohesion, and reducing re-offending. A large part of the report also discusses how to provide what is referred to as an ‘innovation infrastructure’ for local government.

The report says that councils must take “an altogether bolder approach” to tackle an increasing range of issues, suggesting that the current recession is an added reason to innovate. However, it describes councillors and council officers as “ready and eager to respond”.

The report will be followed by the launch of NESTA’s Public Services Innovation Lab this spring. The lab aims to bring together the public, private and third sectors to develop and share new ideas to improve public services.