London: iMPOWER's work with Coventry City Council will help children with special educational needs become more independent — and save the authority money.
2012 Change Management in the Public Sector winner
Between February and August 2011, iMPOWER worked closely with Coventry City Council to address spiralling home-to-school transport costs whilst at the same time improving outcomes for children and their families. The results were beyond expectations; the Council expects to save 12% (over £1 million) over the next two financial years, from an annual budget of £4.45 million.
There are approximately two million children and people in England who are identified as having special educational needs (SEN). One of the most life-changing skills that a child can acquire is the ability to travel independently which has profound implications for a child and their family through education and beyond.
There is a shared national ambition that every child should have the opportunity to reach their full potential in school and make the successful transition to adulthood and the world of further education, training or work.
Coventry City Council asked iMPOWER to help it to change Coventry's approach and relationships with parents and carers with regard to SEN home-to-school (HTS) transport. Through establishing the Travel Assistance Programme, the approach sought to understand the parent cohort better, communicate with them more effectively, and incentivise them to become more involved in HTS travel with the ultimate aim of reducing transport demand and related costs for the council and to improve the quality of life for the children and parents involved.
An initial review by iMPOWER identified significant opportunities for savings and service transformation. Included in this were new 'demand side' savings opportunities and the offer to parents of opportunities to meet the transport needs of their children in new ways.
iMPOWER's approach was based on the introduction of a 'Value Modes' approach that segmented users into different attitudinal groups. Each of these groups was anticipated to have different levels of willingness to try new ideas for the transportation of the children. The aim was to enable different groups to choose different travel options resulting in savings and more satisfaction with the service. This is not a prescriptive approach but is based on the insight that different types of people would make different choices if they were made available.
Overall, iMPOWER has been able to introduce new ways of thinking and the council has started to embed a more "citizen oriented" approach to transport services. This individualised approach to delivering sustainable services has allowed Coventry to manage their budget more effectively, improved outcomes for citizens and the lay the foundations to apply this model in other areas of social care.