Merton Council wins top award for innovation

Merton Council has won in the innovation category at the 2014 Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards, the biggest celebration of innovation and talent across British councils.

Winners of the LGC Innovation Award

Winners of the LGC Innovation Award

Awarded for its Merton Managed Accounts project, the council was recognised for its ability to use innovation to re-think services in order to achieve better outcomes for its residents and communities while offering good value for money. Finalists in the innovation category were judged on the extent to which their service design is genuinely innovative and the degree of innovation in the process by which the service was developed and implemented.

Merton Council introduced the Merton Managed Accounts project in 2011, making it one of the first local authorities in the UK to use pre-paid cards to manage the payment of social care invoices on behalf of customers. 189 customers who were previously restricted from selecting their own services, as they found managing finances challenging, have now been given the autonomy to make their own decisions, thanks to Merton Managed Accounts pre-paid cards which are provided by Advanced Payment Solutions. Local Authorities throughout the country are now adopting this model.

A record breaking 640 entries were submitted for this year’s awards with over 80 shortlisted organisations, demonstrating local government’s enthusiasm to share innovation and acknowledge the teams and individuals who make change happen.

Daniel Clark from Merton Managed Accounts team

Daniel Clark from Merton Managed Accounts team

Merton Council’s cabinet member for adult social care and health Councillor Linda Kirby said: “I’m delighted that the Merton Managed Accounts project has received the recognition it deserves. It is a ground-breaking and worthwhile project that is helping to improve the lives of many of our vulnerable residents. Congratulations to everyone who has helped to make this project a success and I’m proud to see it being adopted by other councils in the country.”

LGC editor Nick Golding said: “Projects such as London Borough of Merton’s demonstrate the level of innovation in British local government today. Our judges were extremely impressed by the quality of the entries. At a time when resources are scarce councils are innovating to ensure they provide residents with the best quality services. Local government’s depth of talent does not always get the recognition that it deserves.”

The judges said: “This innovation has empowered a truly vulnerable group of service users in a cost effective manner. The panel were particularly impressed with the manner in which the borough has engaged with the private sector to develop a new service. It was also noted that seeing innovations which improve service offerings originate in the Finance Team is not common and in this sense Merton is a good example for other boroughs/councils to look to. The potential for this innovation to be adopted in other sectors, as well as in other boroughs, was also viewed very positively.”

To find out more about the LGC awards, visit http://www.lgcawards.co.uk.