Local authorities and fire service win LGA funding for 'nudge' campaigns

A series of grassroots nudge campaigns designed to change behaviour and help councils and a fire service be more efficient in using their resources have been awarded £150,000 in funding by the Local Government Association.

Firefighters tackle a house fire (Pic credit: Alex Ramsay / Alamy Stock Photo)
Firefighters tackle a house fire (Pic credit: Alex Ramsay / Alamy Stock Photo)

Individual grants of £25,000 from the LGA’s behavioural insights programme have been given to seven projects across the country that are in various stages of development. The funding is being matched by the local authorities running the various campaigns, bringing the total investment to £300,000.

Several projects will involve research and development of new communications materials designed to persuade people to change their behaviour.

Cancer screening incentives

One example is an attempt by North East Lincolnshire Council to increase the number of people attending cancer screening programmes. Incentives such as lottery tickets, Asda vouchers and free bus tickets are being considered as possible ways of increasing the number of participants.

In another project, Ogilvy’s behavioural change team is working with the comms department at Worcestershire County Council to devise a new approach to tackling people who refuse to contribute to the cost of their social care services. This will be based on redesigning letters, invoices and reminders with the aim of encouraging prompt payments.

Reducing house fires caused by younger people

East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is developing a strategy to reduce the number of house fires by targeting 18- to 35-year-olds living in privately rented accommodation. Despite being just 15 per cent of the population, this demographic is responsible for 25 per cent of accidental kitchen fires. The authority is working with behaviour-change specialists Social Engine to explore how social marketing can reduce the number of house fires in Brighton and Hove by making people more aware of the risks of cooking.

Meanwhile, Warrington Borough Council is developing a project to reduce the demand for education, health and care plans that support children and young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities. The number of these plans has risen sharply in recent years, from 969 in 2014 to 1556 in 2018, placing pressure on the council’s budget for these services.

The project will look at the decision-making processes and encourage other forms of help to be explored first, with the aim that, by raising levels of support given to children and young people, the need for individualised plans will reduce.

Increasing take-up of assistance for older people

The London Borough of Croydon is using the grant to explore how it can reduce demand for expensive assisted-travel schemes by persuading disabled people and those with special educational needs of the merits of independent travel.

Another project in development is an attempt by Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council to increase the take up of assistive technology in adult social care, by targeting people already getting some form of help such as those who have assistance with getting their rubbish collected.

And Hartlepool Borough Council is trying to increase the number of children and young people people who enter treatment for drug and alcohol abuse, with only 56 per cent of those being offered support currently taking it up. The council is researching service-users' attitudes to try to make the offer more attractive.

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