Headlines: May 19th, 2009

A team of creative thinkers from public services, charities and businesses have been named as members of a new Innovators Council who will help to reform public services. The Council has been set up by the Cabinet Office Minister, Liam Byrne, to ensure the speedy implementation of ideas from frontline staff and other people for more efficient services.

Its creation is part of a series of measures led by the Cabinet Office. These also include judging Government departments on how well they innovate and overhaul the training of their policy makers. Mr. Byrne said if we want Whitehall to focus on innovation changes we need to change the signals we give from the top.

“That’s why I’m asking this panel of experts to join me in seeking out, developing and implementing the next generation of innovative ideas, ideas that will allow us to continue the reform of public services and deliver a smaller, stronger centre of Government that encourages innovation and allows it to flourish,” he said.

Members of the Council include Lord Adebowale, from Turning Point and the Sunningdale Institute, Dr Lynne Maher, Head of Innovation Practice at the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, Peter Housden, permanent secretary at Communities and Local Government, Toby Salt, the Deputy Chief Executive and Strategic Director at the National College for School Leadership, Rob Whiteman, the Chief Executive of Barking and Dagenham Council and Sally Russell, the co-founder of the successful website, Netmums.

Mr. Byrne said two Government-run pilot schemes showed how simple ideas could make a difference to peoples’ lives. The ‘Tell Us Once’ initiative means people have to contact the Government only once when their circumstances change. Through the Online Free School Meals system central Government was being joined up with local authorities to cut the time taken to process an application from six weeks to just a few hours.