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

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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
29/6/202210:30 BST1.3 hours
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