Creative Councils

Creative Councils is a programme run by NESTA and the Local Government Association to support councils in developing and implementing radical, transformative ideas. These ideas address long-term challenges in their areas and exemplify the role innovation can play in solving them.

In the wake of the most dramatic cuts to local government finance in a generation, public services are facing increasingly complex demands with fewer funds to tackle them. Incremental improvements to services will not be enough. If local government is to overcome these challenges, it needs to rethink how it functions from the inside out, and re-imagine how public services can help strengthen communities and improve their quality of life.

Watch this animation about Creative Councils

Councils have succeeded in developing innovative ideas but can struggle to put them into practice and maximise their potential by taking them to scale. To help overcome this as well as to understand more about the barriers and enablers for local government innovation, NESTA and LGA developed the Creative Councils programme to offer financial and non-financial support to councils. Over one-third of all the local authorities in England and Wales applied to receive support to put their innovative ideas into practice. Seventeen ‘Creative Councils’ were chosen to take part in the programme all with strong ideas ranging from engaging school teachers and becoming energy self-sufficient to new alternative models of funding for local government.

Our role involved supporting the Creative Councils to develop and test their innovations, and to help them create the conditions necessary to embed genuine, long-lasting change. We supported each of the councils by helping to shape their ideas, challenging them and bringing in additional expertise when required. Six councils were chosen to receive further support based on the strength of their innovations and their capacity to deliver them.

The final result will be a set of ideas and practices that have a real impact in each of the six areas, and that can potentially be applied beyond the Creative Councils. The success of the Creative Councils will provide an example and inspiration to other local authorities to rise to the challenge of tackling their own acute and long-term difficulties in equally ambitious ways. 

We are currently supporting each of the chosen six Creative Councils to further develop their plans for the next year so that they can make the greatest impact possible.

Sarah Gillinson on Creative Councils from Innovation Unit on Vimeo.