Policy in Practice, along with its local government partners, won two major awards at the Public Finance Awards 2022 on 29 November, and was a finalist in a third category.
Winner of Solutions Partner Award
Policy in Practice won for using data analysis to help local authorities distribute £19 million of Covid support to residents through the Household Support Fund
Winner of Aligned Public Service Delivery Award
Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council for the use of data in joined-up safeguarding using the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Tracker (MAST) from Policy in Practice
Finalist of Digital Finance Project of the Year Award
Islington Council for their £1 million Pension Credit take-up campaign using data from the Low Income Family Tracker (LIFT) from Policy in Practice
We are incredibly proud to work with our local government partners, trailblazers in using data for good.
These awards recognise their success. It’s rewarding to see how our tools help clients to use their data to change lives for the better.
For example, a man identified via our LIFT platform was living on £55 per week. LIFT identified £138 per week in unclaimed Pension Credit. He got £1,794 in back-dated entitlement and could get a £650 Cost of Living payment too.
The individual stories from clients, of vulnerable people being protected from harm through MAST or improving financial resilience for thousands of low income households through LIFT, are very real. They remind us that making a difference is not about data, or numbers, ultimately it’s about people.
These awards recognise the latest successes achieved by local government. With the support of local authority Chief Executives, Directors and Officers, we are making a big difference to people’s lives.
Deven Ghelani, Founder and CEO, Policy in Practice
It was a proud moment for director and founder Deven Ghelani as Policy in Practice was announced as the winner of the Solutions Partner Award for helping local authorities to target £19 million in Household Support Funds to their most vulnerable residents.
Policy in Practice had identified that delivering Covid-19 support funds was a particular challenge for local authorities.
The Household Support Fund, worth £500m, was announced on 6 October 2021 and had to be spent by 31 March 2022.
The partnership helped clients at nearly 50 local authorities to target £19m in Household Support Funds, and get it out to people quickly, through the analysis of administrative data to allow councils to accurately target their funds The Low Income Family Tracker (LIFT) platform has been instrumental in helping many local authorities accurately target their Household Support Funds using their administrative data.
They helped nine councils, which were given £18,590,294 of discretionary Housing Support Fund money to allocate to their most vulnerable residents. Around 80% of this money was set aside to proactively help households most at risk. On average, households received between £100 to £200 each, equating to 149,000 households that have been supported using this data-driven preventative approach. Households have been given either cash or vouchers to use on vital supplies of food or to meet energy costs.
The judges said: “This was an impressive submission from a relatively new organisation with a cutting-edge approach. Policy in Practice was adding considerable value to authorities’ efforts, helping them to turn their ambitions into practical deliverables that make tangible improvements to people’s lives.”
Policy in Practice is now scaling up its solutions and services to reach more people, including free webinars that are hosted every month where a social policy challenge, such as the cost-of-living crisis, is explored. These feature a client as a guest speaker to talk about how they are addressing the challenge using our tools, and the impact that they are achieving. The partnership continues to develop the LIFT platform.
It was a moment, too, of well deserved recognition for Walsall Council as its Director of Public Health Stephen Gunther collected the Aligned Public Service Delivery Award on behalf of the council for its use of the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Tracker (MAST) platform provided by Policy in Practice. MAST provides multi-agency safeguarding teams, social workers and frontline safeguarding teams with information to improve communication and liaison. It provides a joined up approach using data sets, to protect vulnerable people from harm and out of the social care system.
Responsibility for safeguarding vulnerable people is a critical priority for councils and a range of safeguarding partners. Too often, vulnerability is identified too late. Limited data sharing between organisations makes it hard to identify people who need support before they hit a crisis. The MAST platform was the solution from Policy in Practice, and Walsall Council has played a leading role in its creation. MAST combines datasets from Walsall Council – Adult Social Care, Children’s Social Care and Public Health; Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust; West Midlands Police; and West Midlands Fire and Rescue. This allows social workers to see if other safeguarding agencies are actively involved with a person or address too. The information will then support their professional judgement and make it easier to have conversations with practitioners from other services.
The project is one of three Social Care Digital Innovation Accelerator (SCDIA) 2020/21 projects and is run by Policy in Practice and CC2i for LGA, with match funding from NHS Digital.
To date, more than 100,000 records have been successfully brought into the system with significant results. Half of Walsall Council’s Children’s Social Care records and two-thirds of adult records match a record from at least one of the other partners
Multiple cases previously unknown between the services and where there have been multiple incidents have had data-matching results. At least two of these matches, one with multiple incidents at the same address, were not known to Children’s Services, justifying the project alone.
The judges said their entry was “an impressive story about the real-world benefits of sharing data to improve public service delivery”.
This initiative, which maps and links administrative datasets from different organisations that support the same household for safeguarding purposes, has not been done in the UK before.
All MAST project partners are committed for another year and, so far, MAST has received attention from over 50 other councils, health and police organisations who are interested in its potential.
Read: Find out more about MAST
Islington Council is to be commended for reaching the shortlist stage for its £1 million Pension Credit take-up campaign, using the Low Income Family Tracker (LIFT) platform provided by Policy in Practice. We are proud to have partnered with Islington Council and commend the commitment of Robbie Rainbird, Head of Community Financial Resilience and his teams in their dedication in improving the financial health of their community.
Policy in Practice helps councils to determine benefit eligibility and unclaimed benefits by analysing their administrative data. In a Pension Credit take-up campaign with Islington Council, Policy in Practice identified 689 eligible households using its Low Income Family Tracker (LIFT) platform that the council then contacted. This resulted in 269 households successfully claiming Pension Credit and confirmed economic benefits to residents of £910,007, or £3,396 per household.
When factoring in potential savings from boosted income to carer households, alongside additional benefit take-up, the overall economic and fiscal benefits over five years is expected to reach over £6 million.
About a third of eligible pensioners are missing out not only a top up to their monthly income but also help with other costs such as heating bills, housing costs, council tax, NHS dental care and if you are over 75 you can get a free TV licence.
Islington Council sought to maximise take up of Pension Credit in pensioner households to increase income for households on the lowest incomes, and create more financially resilient carers.
Financially resilient carers were likely to be able to continue caring for longer, reducing the future demand for care packages.
Using LIFT, Islington Council identified a targeted group of residents, who were eligible for Pension Credit but not claiming it. The potential returns supported investment in direct outbound contact via a targeted and time-limited take-up campaign.
LIFT gives visibility over who is living in poverty and keeps Islington up to date with changes in people’s circumstances.
The approach taken to data led targeted support meant that all funds were targeted towards actual households that Islington knew were entitled. The households that were supported are now financially stable.
The benefits to Islington residents are very significant.
- 268 households had their income increased by £910,007 worth of Pension Credit each year from now on. This is an average of £3,395 per household
- 238 of these also received £218,803 worth of backdated Pension Credit. This is an average of £919 per household
- 25 of these households will also receive £56,136 worth of other benefits from now on. This is an average of £2,245 per household
- 11 of these households also got £5,427 worth of back dated other benefits
The total benefits now claimed for these 268 households is £1,190,373, an average of £4,441 per household. These households should now be better protected from the cost of living crisis and able to afford to stay in their current homes.
25 of these households also owed debt to Islington Council and to date £13,649 has been repaid, again further adding to the worth of this campaign for the authority.
The average age of a resident entitled to Pension Credit in Islington is 77 and the average life expectancy is 83, based on 2010 findings. This means that the Pension Credit take up campaign could end up bringing in total economic and fiscal benefits to Islington Council of £6,244,343.
Islington has shared the success of this project with other councils to disseminate their approach and learnings so that others may benefit. They also gave evidence that formed part of a presentation to a DWP working group on Pension Credit take up and a letter to the Minister for Pensions and FInancial Inclusion.
Another Pension Credit campaign is planned later in 2022 to boost take up from other eligible households before the cold winter months and expected higher energy bills.
Islington Council and Policy in Practice are also exploring the findings on carer households further. We are looking into other low level preventative services to learn about the journey of a household that uses telecare and occupational health services. We will use data to locate other similar households to help with the aim of keeping people living independently in their homes for longer before they have to go into residential care. Read: Islington Council secures over £1 million for pensioners in successful Pension Credit take-up campaign