For the first time, councils have access to real-time monthly updates on living standards thanks to Innovate UK funding secured by Policy in Practice. These data insights will support councils with their economic and social recovery plans and help them to tackle local poverty faster.

  • New funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, will deliver faster insights to councils by automating the secure transfer of administrative data to the council’s Low Income Family Tracker (LIFT) platform, developed by Policy in Practice. The project will use benefits administration data to deliver monthly updates to councils, reducing the time to process data from up to six weeks to under six days.
  • Policy in Practice delivers analytics that model the combined impact of changing central and local government policies on over two million households across the UK. The data is crucial to dozens of councils that use it to identify and engage households newly vulnerable due to Coronavirus.
  • Administrative data is the future of social policy, and timely data is essential to councils delivering proactive and reactive support services across the UK. More than ever, councils need to connect the newly vulnerable with benefits and employment support to prevent crisis and promote a faster economic recovery.
  • The LIFT platform enables councils to identify and target tailored support to people on low incomes by connecting them with benefits and employment support. It also delivers on public health goals by tackling the social determinants of ill health, including isolation and poverty.

Leading local authorities use Policy in Practice’s LIFT analytics platform to:

  1. Identify vulnerable residents and target discretionary support to those most in need. Haringey Council, shortlisted for a Public Finance Award for its data-led insight work, delivered fiscal savings of £162,000 and local economic benefits of £560,000 by boosting carer’s financial resilience.
    See Haringey Council case study.

“I wanted to illustrate that you can use data for good and that it can make a difference to both the community and the council’s bottom line.”

Margaret Gallagher, Head of Performance and Business Intelligence, Haringey Council

2. Boost household’s income worth thousands of pounds per annum to low income households. Royal Borough of Greenwich uncovered significant pockets of poverty and identified up to £20million per year of unclaimed benefits.
See Royal Borough of Greenwich case study.

“The LIFT Dashboard has given us the opportunity to be even more targeted with the take-up work we’re doing and become much smarter in using our resources. Now we’re targeting people who we are much more confident are likely to be missing out on benefits.”

Corin Hammersley, Training, Policy and Welfare Rights Services Manager, Royal Borough of Greenwich

3. Track the impacts of policy and effectiveness of interventions designed to deliver holistic support. Newcastle City Council and London Borough of Barking and Dagenham took part in a Cabinet Office project, Reimagine Debt, to determine the effectiveness of proactive approaches to tackling debt using data insights. Arrears fell by up to 65% and additional social impacts were proven, alongside economic benefits for councils and families.
See Cabinet Office’s ReImagine Debt case study

“Debt is not about numbers, debt is about people, behaviours and circumstances. We fix debt problems by focusing on people.”
Steve Coppard, Deputy Director, Government Debt Management, Cabinet Office

Policy in Practice is helping leading local authorities in the UK to unlock insights

Policy in Practice is helping leading local authorities in the UK to unlock insights from existing datasets to get support to people early, before crisis hits. It has won funding from Innovate UK to speed up the time it takes to process and analyse data, so that councils can act fast.

“The LIFT Dashboard has been invaluable in helping us help our customers to maximise their income, and helping the most vulnerable people in our district to help themselves. One household identified as at risk by the LIFT dashboard was behind with their council tax and they had liability orders. Because of the money we were able to get for them they cleared out the old debt and they are now paid to debt for 2019 and 2020.”
Nick Harvey, Training Officer, Folkestone and Hythe District Council

“The more timely your data, the more powerful it is. If you want to operationalise the information you’re using it’s absolutely critical that the data is timely.”
Mark Fowler, Community Solutions Director, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

“Councils have told us that they want frequent and fast refreshes of data. This rapid three month project will deliver immediate automation for twenty-four clients already subscribed to the new service.”
Jade Alsop, Commercial Director, Policy in Practice

“Support from Innovate UK lays the foundation for a data-led response to the challenges created by the pandemic, challenges that we know are disproportionately affecting people on low incomes. We believe administrative data is the future of social policy and has massive potential to improve cost effective delivery of support to people in need, using targeting and early intervention approaches to lower costs and improve overall outcomes.”
Deven Ghelani, Director and Founder, Policy in Practice

Housing affordability revealed in refreshed Living Standards Index for London

Using pooled data from London Boroughs Policy in Practice has built the Living Standards Index for London. It has just been refreshed with new data from councils across London to show, amongst other things, the latest financial resilience of Londoners and the impact of the transition to Universal Credit. The LSI is an example of how real-time monthly updates of data will be used to power data insights for councils across a region.

All individual councils across the UK can now benefit from Innovate UK funding secured by Policy in Practice to get real-time monthly data insights. These insights will help councils to better understand what’s happening with the living standards in their local area, and therefore target support where it’s most needed. Ultimately, data-led insights will help councils to build the financial resilience of residents and also model the future to avoid costs and crisis.

Find out how councils can benefit from the new Innovate UK funding by contacting us on 0330 088 9242 or emailing for details.

Read Councils get faster data insights to boost their COVID-19 recovery, The MJ, 26th July 2020 here


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Register for an upcoming webinar

TitleDateStart TimeDurationRegister
How the housing crisis has deepened the cost of living crisis For most people housing is the highest living cost, yet the ongoing housing crisis in the UK is often overlooked when discussing the current cost of living crisis.

This webinar will explore the policy issues affecting housing affordability for low-income households, examining the scale of the problem as well as what can be done in both the short and long term.

We will highlight important work done by our clients using data to proactively address housing issues.

We will be joined by a leading local authority to discuss a recent project conducted with Policy in Practice that used benefits administration data to identify households in temporary accommodation that could be helped to move into the private rental sector.

Join this webinar to learn:

- How UK housing policy interacts with the cost of living crisis
- How local authorities are using data to proactively tackle housing affordability problems
- Actions you can take now to support your residents dealing with housing issues alongside the cost of living crisis
27/7/202210:30 BST1.3 hours
How to identify and support Just About Managing households using data The government has said it wants to make life easier for the 'squeezed middle' or people who are just about managing. These are the families who are not rich and they are also not those on the lowest incomes. Despite most being in work, they are struggling to meet their cost of living and it is no wonder.

The cost of living hit a 30-year high in February with inflation running at 6.2% and outpacing wage growth. Electricity bills were up nearly 20% in the year to January 2022, and gas bills by 28%, with further rises expected. Private rental prices across the UK went up by 2% in the year to January, the highest rate for five years; in the East Midlands that figure was 3.6%.

We know that one in five UK adults (10.3 million people) have less than £100 in savings, one in ten have no savings at all and more than a quarter have less than £500. Many are one broken appliance away from slipping into debt.

Local authorities want to help families who are struggling now to avoid a crisis down the line yet they have little or no visibility over people who are not already claiming benefits. Now though, analysis of other datasets can be used to get a clearer picture of families who are just about managing.

Join this webinar to learn:

- Who is just about managing now but at risk in the future due to the rising cost of living
- Which datasets can be used to identify families in danger of debt
- How local authorities can target support to avert crisis
21/9/202210:30 BST1.3 hours
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