Where can I use demand management?

The principles of managing demand can help and be applied to any service area. The following examples illustrate how demand management has succeeded in a range of service contexts.

The principles of managing demand can help and be applied to any service area. The following examples illustrate how demand management has succeeded in a range of service contexts.

Waste - reporting fly-tipping by App

Allerdale Borough Council - In Cumbria, Allerdale Borough Council used a QR code to enable customers to report fly tipping and dog fouling. The QR code uses a smartphone GPS to send location data to the council's system that manages its street operatives. The ‘Spot the Grot' campaign contributed to a sharp increase in the number of reports from customers being made via the website and the council's online forms.

Housing - supporting families to find homes

The London Borough of Ealing co-designed a new approach with housing staff that incorporated behavioural insights and nudge techniques. (A 'nudge' technique is a way of gently influencing the behaviour of a group of people, through non-forced methods.) Over a four month period from November 2014 to February 2015, the vast majority of residents who took part in the pilot agreed to look for a home themselves (31 out of 34), and after three months, only two of the original pilot group had requested a further service from the housing team. This suggests that behavioural insights are a helpful tool in changing the nature of the conversation with customers and enabling residents to take control of their situation. 

Adult Social Care - helping older people to live at home

By developing an outcomes-based model for commissioning domiciliary care with payment-by-results centred on reablement, Wiltshire Council's Help-to Live at Home service has resulted from fewer people needing long-term care, especially residential care. Wiltshire is placing 200 fewer people every year since launching the new model, while its demographic data had forecast this to rise by 200 placements. Wiltshire estimate that this reduction in demand is worth around £5 million since the launch of the model in 2011/12.

These examples illustrate that demand can be managed at various levels. the diagram below outlines the steps that can be taken to influence demand by:

  1. individual managers working with their teams, service users and residents
  2. individual departments and services
  3. organisations working with partners

Demand Management Opportunities

There are many demand management projects underway, ranging from "quick wins" that can be conceived and delivered within three-months, to complex multi-agency programmes requiring 12-plus months. The size and timescale of your demand management project depends largely on the issue, the customer group, the associated risks and the range of resources and stakeholder support needed.

1. There are several approaches managers can take to manage demand to secure improvements quickly. By focusing on a specific issue or service area where they have control and the resources needed, this can be a relatively straightforward exercise. 

  • By simplifying and clarifying its message the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency doubled response rates to its letters. See page 20 of linked report.
  • By customising the messages Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs increased tax collection rates from particular customer groups, such as GPs See page 23 of linked report.
  • By sending a text to people claiming Council Tax Support but not paying the prescribed amount, Colchester Borough Council increased both the number of people paying their council tax and revenue.  Encouraging early recovery also reduced the cost and time of enforcement and the numbers of people taken to court and receiving bailiff action.
  • By sending individuals a well-timed text message Her Majesty's Courts doubled fine payment rates. The Courts Service estimates that sending a personalised rather than a standard text could bring in over £3 million annually. Sending personalised text reminders could also reduce the need for up to 150,000 bailiff interventions annually. See page 38 of linked report.

2. There are many examples of changes taking place at service level. These involve customer engagement and education, resourcing and senior leadership driving re-design and service transformation:

  • By putting in place travel training for its health and social care workforce, Calderdale Council was able to identify vulnerable children, adults and their families and signpost them to local resources. This has saved the council money, while helping to develop residents' independence.
  • By engaging with residents as standard practice for Streetscene services, Plymouth City Council has reduced its missed bins collections to unprecedented levels.  It has also proactively knocked on residents' doors to address specific issues before they escalate. This is helping to reduce costs by around £30,000 while improving environmental outcomes.
  • By re-designing reminder notices to 1,000 residents with unpaid Council Tax, Wigan City Council increased early payments received by 10 per cent. Applying this approach to all residents could help prevent over 700 cases going to the bailiffs and potentially equate to an increase in earlier cash flow of £590,000 over the course of a year.

3. There are many opportunities for organisations to shape demand by working with partners to address complex issues and behaviours – there are examples of councils working with partners to address difficult and sensitive issues, where the associated risks are high, which requires substantial time and resources.

  • Suffolk County Council has been has been delivering a four-year transformation programme called ‘Supporting Lives Connecting Communities' since 2011. It has developed a vision for adult social care and is working with staff and local communities to help them understand these changes and the reasons behind them. Through a programme of culture change and identifying solutions to meet people's needs, alongside appropriate help offered by the council, Suffolk is delivering £4m of savings by reducing demand for state-funded care.
  • Shropshire Council has developed a model of care with its local voluntary and community sectors that aims to divert people from formal care to local solutions. 
  • By working collaboratively with Greater Manchester Probation Service, New Charter Housing Trust in Tameside has supported high-risk offenders into stable accommodation to break the cycles which underpin their offending. For every £1 invested in the approach, benefits worth £6.13 have been realised by local public services.

Case studies

For more examples visit our case study knowledge bank

The examples herein are ot meant to be comprehensive or complete. However we have captured and catalogued as many relevant case studies as we could to make this a useful resource. Please contact productivity@local.gov.uk, if you would like to have your project added to the knowledge bank.