At Policy in Practice, we hold regular steering groups to connect our clients with each other; to listen and ask for feedback about our product roadmap; and to explore new ways of using data to help the UK’s most vulnerable families. Having welcomed over 10 new LIFT clients in the last year alone, we were delighted to have a bumper turnout for this meeting.

In July 2021 we held our latest LIFT platform steering group online. We were joined by over 20 clients from 13 different local authorities, who are all innovators in the field of administrative data.

We split the LIFT platform steering group across two main sessions: learning and sharing within the group and future developments.

Islington’s pension credit take-up campaign saw a success rate of 48%

We were delighted to kick off the first session with Robbie from London Borough of Islington sharing their experiences on their successful pension credit campaign.

The LIFT platform identified over 400 individuals in the Islington area who were eligible for pension credit but not yet claiming. This list helped to form the basis of a very successful pension credit take-up campaign which saw 48% of the identified cohort successfully go on to claim pension credit. This amounts to £485,784 in additional income across the group of 198, an average of £2,453 per person. Prior to the use of LIFT, pension credit campaigns have lower than average success rates so this was a hugely important campaign in proving the concept of Islington’s approach.

Initially, Robbie and his team wrote to the entire cohort, giving them all the information they needed to claim themselves. The team then followed up these letters with telephone calls and emails to a smaller group. The work was specifically assigned to two members of the Income Maximisation team who led on the communication.

There are still barriers to engaging with the pension credit group, particularly with people feeling that they do not need to take up these credits, even if they are found to be eligible. However, as the pandemic has progressed people have become more accustomed to communications from Local Authorities and some of the stigma around benefit take up has been dismantled.

Phase two of the campaign will see a follow up campaign to a further group of 300 individuals who have been identified as eligible for pension credits, applying similar communication techniques.

Tackling homelessness, debt recovery and COVID recovery will be council’s main priority in the coming months

Our clients were then split up into breakout rooms to discuss the challenges of the upcoming year. Clients explored:

  1. The challenges and plans for tackling homelessness
  2. The challenges and plans for tackling debt recovery
  3. What carrying out Covid recovery means for LIFT clients

The overwhelming sense was that even though homelessness is not necessarily a problem for specific authorities, on a national level it is still a significant issue. There is always a desire to go upstream to put preventative measures in place to stop people becoming homeless which requires insights from data analytics, which is something some local authorities lack resources in. Policy in Practice’s LIFT platform, which supports this work, was found to be very valuable.

When it comes to debt recovery, this is often such a huge area to tackle so our clients shared their experiences to solve some of the common pain points. Jane Worrell from Folkestone and Hythe shared her insights into breaking the lists down into much more manageable sizes, either by narrowing the campaign further into specific take-up campaigns or by tackling arrears. Starting off with a benefits team who understand the underlying data was also discussed as a sure way to getting the most out of these lists generated by LIFT.

The final breakout room, on COVID-19 recovery, found that it meant starkly different things to each council. For some it meant in-work poverty, for others it was improving household finances and looking at maximising people’s income and building up financial resilience.
We also discussed the positives that have come out of the pandemic: with people spending more time at home there has been more opportunity for people to upskill and undertake online training, ultimately leading to better employment opportunities.

Internally, for councils COVID-19 recovery will take shape by breaking down silos and working across teams towards a common goal. This is an area LIFT will be particularly useful as it will create a more joined up approach to benefit take up and collections.

Automation, Universal Credit data and COVID-19 recovery will be our focus of the next year

After the break we focused on the future developments of the LIFT platform. We are pleased to announce that we have 10 clients who have transitioned over to a fully automated process. This is the result of a great deal of streamlining in the back-end, particularly when it comes to redacting data and improving our processes. This process has set us up in good stead for the work we hope to carry out with Universal Credit data and we are already seeing the two processes align.

For more information on sharing Universal Credit data with Policy in Practice please reach out to us at hello@policyinpractice.co.uk to find out more.
Another important development for the LIFT platform is our COVID-19 recovery modelling. It is still in its early stages but being able to share our ideas at the steering group has helped to further refine our ideas to ensure it adds the most value for our clients.

Our clients directed the future developments of the LIFT platform

Our clients were then split up into the second and final breakout sessions of the day to offer their thoughts on the LIFT platform and let us know where they hope to see the platform go in the future. This level of future steering is invaluable to us to ensure our product is designed with the client’s needs in mind.

How to get involved with our next LIFT platform steering group

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in our LIFT platform steering group; hearing our client’s experiences and opinions on our products is vital to us and we really value these sessions.

  1. The next LIFT platform steering group will be held in January 2022 and registration details will be sent to our LIFT platform clients in due course.
  2. If you are not yet a LIFT platform client and would like to know more about how the tool helps local authorities to identify financial vulnerability, target support and track change using their data please call 0330 088 9242 or email hello@policyinpractice.co.uk

Register for an upcoming webinar

TitleDateStart TimeDurationRegister
How Autumn’s income shocks will hit low income families The factors that have kept many low-income families out of poverty in the past year are changing, meaning many thousands will be worse off.

Families are set to be hit by big income shocks with the ending of furlough, the reintroduction of the Minimum Income Floor, the loss of the £20 a week Universal Credit increase and the ending of the Benefit Cap's grace period. New data analysis from Policy in Practice predicts significant losses for some families who will struggle to cope and who will need the support of frontline organisations to help them through.

In this webinar we will explore what the Autumn may bring for low-income households and how support organisations can work now to prevent hardship and prepare for an increased demand for services.

Join this webinar to learn:

- How much different households are set to lose when Covid supports are withdrawn
- What support tools are available for individuals and organisations
- Best practice advice from a frontline organisation

We will be joined by Monica Kaur from the Money and Pensions Service.
29/9/202110:30 BST1.3 hours
Register
How Kent County and district councils collaborate with data to tackle poverty Covid has turned our world upside down. Many residents in Kent, as elsewhere, have experienced financial hardship whilst, for organisations, the pandemic has been the catalyst energising them to work differently.

In summer 2020 Kent Districts and Communities Recovery Cell set up a group to focus support to residents at risk or already experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic. Residents unused to facing financial hardship suddenly needed help to navigate support and advice systems. The group knew that things are likely to get worse for Kent's residents before they get better as furlough ends and families who were just about managing are tipped over the edge.

In a first for local government, Kent county and district councils have boldly chosen to collaboratively share their data to get powerful cross-county insights that will drive their poverty prevention activity. The information will help them to target of a wide range of campaigns to residents such as employment support, free school meal take-up, public health interventions, housing initiatives and benefits take up.

Importantly, the project has transparency built in so that councils can very easily benchmark with each other to identify and share best practice in a safe, collaborative way.

Join this webinar to hear:

- Kent County Council's vision for greater collaborative working with districts
- Maidstone District Council's drivers for districts to collaborate with their data
- Folkestone and Hythe District Council's impact achieved so far from data-led poverty prevention campaigns

We will be joined by guest speakers, Zena Cooke, Corporate Director Finance at Kent County Council, Steve McGinnes, Director of Mid Kent Services at Maidstone District Council, and Jane Worrel, Revenues and Benefits Senior Specialist at Folkestone and Hythe District Council.
20/10/202110:30 BST1.3 hours
Register
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