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About Us

Our Team worked from 2006 to March 2011 on projects and methods for taking current and future cost out of front line public services to challenging and high cost groups. This was done by innovatively using simple digital technology to achieve efficient services and improve the lives of the service users, thus reducing their future demands on public services. Note that this programme was not primarily about “getting people online” (hence the change of name from Digital Inclusion Team), though that can help achieve the main aims, and so its work should not be confused with that of Race Online 2012 or Go ON UK.  The programme has closed. 

 

The Team collaborated with local authorities to create new local services, working with charities, voluntary groups, mutuals, other public agencies like health and probation services, service users, and private sector companies — a Big Society model. The services are each built around a multi-agency, cross-sector delivery process that can be adopted by other LAs, or scaled up, and generally they involve charities. This availability of repeatable processes enables the creation of a services market by charity, social enterprise and private providers (see the paper on Co-production and Co-creation in Public Services on the Research page.

 

Outcomes

Local services created by the programme include ones for young people not in employment, education or training (with Reading); unemployed adults (City of London), prolific offenders (Leicestershire), families with complex problems (Kirklees and Islington), children in care (N Lincs & others), mental health patients (Doncaster PCT), ethnic minority communities, social housing residents, and more. Evaluations are nearly complete to assess the value for money of these.

 

For example, working with a number of local authorities and the charity Brightside Trust, the team established an e-mentoring programme for children in care and care-leavers, to support their transition to independent living and reducing the risk of drug abuse, self harm & suicide, and offending. Keeping a person off drugs saves £50,000 per year unnecessary public costs, and avoiding a spell in A&E about £30,000. Processing an offender into a 12-month sentence costs about £40,000. A lifetime of unemployment — a common result of being in care — has an economic cost estimated as £250,000.

 

Contribution to policy objectives

The outcomes are clearly aimed at efficiency and cost reduction. Moreover, the examples — and the tools and methods created from the work on the ground nearly ready to be offered openly for service redesign — embody Big Society principles. In particular: the role of civil society; local delivery, transparency and democratic engagement; and rigorous appraisal of value for money. These arise from the well-defined design method that involves all stakeholders and the community in the creation and ownership of the services, and the critical evaluation of options at each step. This is demonstrated by local projects moving into continuing operation. Two business development opportunities are also created: one in the charity, social enterprise, mutual and private sectors around the front-line service processes, and another in professional services supporting the use of the tools and methods.

 

Status

The programme began in May 2006. It was hosted by the City of London Corporation for its five year life on behalf of local authorities in England. It closed at the end of March 2011.All of the products from the work are now hosted on this website.

 

        

Creative Commons License
Unless otherwise stated, material produced by the Digital Inclusion Team is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. Enquiries to licensing@digiteam.org.uk.