PRESS RELEASE

Thursday 16 June 2022

LAMBETH COUNCIL CHIEF MOVES TO PUBLIC SECTOR CONSULTANCY INNER CIRCLE, WILL LEAD ‘AGILE INVESTMENTS’ MISSION

Lambeth Council Chief Executive Andrew Travers is moving to Inner Circle Consulting after five years at the south London Town Hall job, to lead a new ‘Agile Investments’ team that can help councils facing a challenging funding environment to achieve sustainability. 

Travers, whose previous posts include Chief Executive at Barnet Council, has been the Chair of the Chief Executives London Committee and the lead on London’s economic recovery. He will take up position in September 2022 as Director at Inner Circle, a consultancy working across the UK on a range of public sector projects based on reimagining local government services. 

“Agile Investments is about helping Councils and places devise and deliver strategies for financial sustainability, using local assets and potential,” Travers said. 

Read the full article here.

Tuesday 14 June

BEYOND DEMOLITION – WHAT’S THE FUTURE OF ESTATE REGENERATION?

A report on Inner Circle’s panel event as part of the London Festival of Architecture 2022. 

By  Lucy Webb, Managing Consultant at Inner Circle Consulting.

The redevelopment of post-war estates is an important source of sorely-needed new homes but the traditional approach of levelling everything and rebuilding new is now under pressure due to the environmental impact of demolition and understandable objections from residents about the breaking up of communities who are often not involved in the remodelling of their local housing.

At Inner Circle Consulting, we are working with our clients, communities and the industry to create a new model for doing estate regeneration better. As part of the London Festival of Architecture 2022 we hosted a lively debate to share best practice and discuss the challenges.

The event was held in a beautiful new space at Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects (PTE) who first offered a tour of their King Square regeneration project in Islington: a great example of increasing density through infill with minimal demolition and no compulsory purchase order. Key learning from the project included the importance of building community voice into the design and specification of the buildings and spaces, and an allocations policy that gave existing residents first refusal on the new homes.  We bumped into two residents on the visit, both of whom spoke of the virtues of the new homes and community infrastructure provided. One noted in particular the energy efficiency and warmth of the buildings.

Read the full article here.

Tuesday 10 May

HOW TO FIX THE HOUSING CRISIS? AN EIGHT-POINT PLAN TO PERFECT THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE

By Matthew Nimmo – Director and Housing Leader at Inner Cirle Consulting and Emma Peters – Director at Inner Circle Consulting.

How to fix the housing crisis? We need significant structural changes to the way the UK plans and delivers homes. We need more funding from more sources. We need to fix the broken land market. We need densified development in towns and cities and new settlements, help for small local developers to break into the market, support for community land trusts.

It’s a checklist that can feel like a ‘wait and hope’ approach. But local authorities can take action right now within existing policy, legislation and systems. Working with councils across the UK we have come up with an eight-point plan that every council can consider. Call it the art of the possible.

One: Listen to communities – they want to talk to you – to better meet local housing need and manage demand for affordable housing. A residents survey launched by Cornwall Council to assess local people’s experience and housing need was completed by more than 2,500 people and informed a comprehensive housing crisis plan to address local issues such as second homes and invest in the right types of homes for local people. Elsewhere, Great Yarmouth cut the council housing waiting list by 95 percent and Luton Council used data to understand local issues driving homelessness and support families at risk.

Read the full article here.

Friday 22 April

INVESTING TO RENEW OUR FUTURE ISN’T AN OPTION – IT’S THE ONLY CHOICE THERE IS.

By Nick Blackmore, Managing Consultant and Renewable Futures Lead at Inner Circle Consulting.

Earth Day was first held on April 22, 1970, the year Joni Mitchell sang “You don’t know what you’ve got tilit’s gone” and millions of people across the United States held street protests over the destruction of the environment.  

Two years earlier, the first human spacecraft had reached the moon. As the astronauts of Apollo 8 sent back photographs of Earth to an awestruck public, the planet’s beauty sparked mass awareness of its fragility too, and rising air pollution and increased use of pesticides prompted debate about the impact of human actions on climate degradation. The first mass public action to save the planet was a hopeful and exciting moment. 

Today, 52 years on, the official theme for Earth Day 2022 is Invest In Our Planet. We mark the day two weeks after a United Nations report said the world was running out of options to hit climate goals – with only immediate, sweeping societal transformation now able to stave off catastrophic warming. Campaigners are still doggedly making the same basic pleading as in 1970 that we need to look after our earth. 

Read the full article here.

Friday 25 March

10 KEY INGREDIENTS OF A SUCCESFUL REGENERATION PROJECT

By Lucy Webb, ICC Managing Consultant specializing in housing and regeneration.

On the back of a tweet last month, someone asked me the question ‘What is Good Regeneration?!’  It was a good challenge.

We throw the term ‘regeneration’ around without defining it much and 20 years into a career in doing it, I know there is no one-size-fits-all approach.  Every community is different, every place is unique and the assets and resources available vary from place to place.

Read the full article here.

Tuesday 8 March

WE NEED MORE WOMEN IN MANAGEMENT CONSULTING – AND CONCRETE ACTIONS TO BREAK THE BIAS

By Cheryl Bannerman, ICC Consultant specializing in complex, design-led regeneration projects.

When was the last time you walked into a space as a true representative of yourself? As I look at the women in the management consultancy industry I wonder how many daily present instead a toned-down and passive version to a space that still sends a message that we are not good enough – to the detriment of ourselves and the industry we care about.

Over the last 20 years, female headcount in consulting has risen 191 percent – yet still been eclipsed by the number of men employed. Even during a recent recruitment boom, the proportion of women in the workplace declined by more than 5 percent from 1998 to hit 46.9 percent in 2019. Meanwhile, a survey in 2020 found that 73 percent of consulting firms’ employees are white and so are 80 percent of their owners and partners – something I personally reflect on increasingly as I progress my career as a woman of colour.

These statistics should be a trigger for change. The COVID -19 pandemic had devastating health and economic impacts for us all and disproportionately hit those who were already vulnerable – the communities that are minoritised by a lack of representation and understanding at design and policy-making level. As we seek to stabilise and rebuild, the role of women in management consulting is key to progress. We can only unlock better futures for people in communities and places across the UK with the participation of people from all backgrounds and experiences. That means ensuring that women from all backgrounds and experiences are key players in all teams, their skills and insights at the heart of the work we do, and their opportunities to progress clear and targeted.

Read more here.

Monday 7 March

THE CASE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE REFORM

Our public services are not working in the way their creators intended – overwhelmed by demand, letting too many people down, often fuelling mistrust and disconnection and increasing the burden on the state yet further.

ICC Director Chris Naylor, former chief executive of Barking and Dagenham Council in East London, explores what a new public sector could look like, as councils face tighter budgets this spring and are pressed to deliver the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.

“On the face of it, this is a programme about public service reform, but really, it’s about people, and their power and so it becomes about politics. Our public services were designed for a time of full employment; of economic growth – where basic needs were met; a bygone era, where women stayed at home to look after their children and older relatives, and where men were bread winners,” says Naylor.

“But lives are complex and fragile. And the state isn’t just needed episodically for a treatment or cure but it’s often knotted into the fabric of people’s lives for decades and across generations. As a result, those services cost more and more and their impact isn’t as clear as it once was. We need to look again at social economic investment and what designing preventative, reformed services can yield.”

You can listen to the programme here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0014x7v

Contributors include Polly Mackenzie, chief executive of cross party think tank Demos; author and social entrepreneur Hilary Cottam; Donna Hall, former chief executive of Wigan Council and now chair of the think tank and campaigning organisation New Local and Danny Kruger, Conservative MP for Devizes in Wiltshire and advisor to the prime minister on the development of a new social covenant, Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council and Alison McKenzie Folan, Chief Executive of Wigan Council

The programme also speaks to local people in Wigan and Barking and Dagenham to see how a different approach to running and delivering public services is changing people’s lives right now.

“It was great to make this programme. But we’re just at the start of the work. Come with us, and join the movement for change,” Naylor says.

Friday 4 March

MAKING IT HAPPEN: THE BUSINESS CASE FOR A BUSINESS CASE

By Chris Twigg

Councils across the country have spent recent weeks going through the formal process of signing off their budgets. In an environment of ever-tighter spending and rising need, their next job is to launch projects and initiatives that prioritise where to spend the money they’ve got – and show how they will deliver on that spending.  

 

Recently I was having a conversation with the chief executive of a council about his next steps. “Right now the last thing you need is a strategy,” I told him. Instead of being taken aback, he immediately said: “I totally agree.” Together we agreed: We need delivery plans. What we would call a business case. 

The default to strategy often happens as a result of the process to set priorities, because it’s a useful way to set out an understanding of local context and current performance, against the main challenges and needs of residents. If you’re a local politician, you need to know that you’ve got a strategy for drug abuse, for the sea front, for transforming the workforce, for regenerating the town centre. Being able to stand up and talk about that is a significant and high profile milestone. But the hard work comes after a strategy is approved. 

 Read full article here. 

Thursday 10 February

WE NEED A HOUSING MINISTER WHO CAN SEE THE PEOPLE AT THE HEART OF THE CRISIS

By Lucy Webb

 

PSHE at my secondary school was always taught by a random assortment of teachers, generally passing through. The message to us teenagers was that personal, social and health education was an unimportant subject we didn’t have to pay much attention to. Much later on, watching my older sister make a career of really good quality PHSE teaching and support young people away from destructive behaviour into self-confident and capable adulthood, I realised how let down we had been as children by a school that devalued young people in favour of a tick box exercise.

 

This week, I can’t help but draw parallels with the PM’s reshuffle and the treatment of the housing brief. We’ve now had 20 housing ministers in 25 years. Constant changes in policies and personalities have played a huge role in the housing crisis we now find ourselves in. And many of us across the UK  – this housing specialist included – find ourselves increasingly wondering what political leaders think the job is actually meant to achieve.

 

Back in 2020, the Institute for Government tried to make the case for keeping ministers in post longer. It stated: ‘The length of time a UK secretary of state stays in the job is now closer to that of a football manager than a CEO in the private sector, and almost a year shorter than the equivalent in Germany. Longer tenures would provide continuity and give the government the best chance of delivering on its most ambitious promises such as ‘levelling up’ the country.” The job role chosen to illustrate the case was: Housing minister.

Read full article here

Monday, 7 January

LEVERING UP: HOW TO REALLY ENGINEER AN EQUAL U.K.

By Chris Naylor and Jamie Ounan

 

The government’s levelling up paper helps clarify Whitehall’s definition of the issue, and spotlight regional disparities. But it fails to convince that it truly wants to help those who need help the most and understands why that matters. 

 

The white paper went straight to tactics and outcomes via a checklist of missions and a promise of mayors. But you can’t set a mission without properly defining the vision of the world you want to create. Like other politicians who dutifully check off mentions of jobs, housing and skills whenever discussing this exercise in equalizing, the authors of the paper missed the fundamental at the heart of this. What do people feel they most lack? Power.  

 

To feel that you’re on a level playing field with everyone else is a matter of agency. To feel that you are secure in your environment, can make your own decisions about your life, and can thrive is a matter of agency. Recognising that means designing a plan that works for the furthest first. Otherwise the response tactics look like the same old same old: reactive work, in silos, to fit a framework set by regulators and/or funders. If we’re really going to level up, we have to start by understanding and addressing the root causes of structural inequality and the power gap. 

 

In 2015, the average healthy life expectancy of women in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham was 53 years. In one of the most successful city economies on earth and at a time when we had never spent more money on health and social care. For the local council to work out why that was happening and design an answer meant moving out of a reflex crisis response and instead thinking in 3D: digging into the root cause, contextualising and prioritising local factors and designing a truly new and different service around the individual from scratch.

Read full article here

Thursday, 16 December

WE’VE GOT URGENT LEARNING TO DO ABOUT BUILDING CLIMATE RESILIENCE INTO OUR COMMUNITIES

By Hannah McShane

 

Losing power means much more than sitting in the dark. Without gas or another fuel source, it also means no heating and no way to cook food. If local pumping stations fail there may not be water to drink, cook or wash with. Internet and telecoms can go down, cutting off contact with the outside world and increasing the isolation and vulnerability for those already at risk.

Earlier this month a major storm hit the North East coast of Britain with winds of 98mph. (To put that into perspective, hurricane classification starts at 74 mph.) Around a quarter of a million homes across the North of England and Scotland lost power. Homes were damaged and huge swathes of forest felled while the northern power grid experienced the worst damage to its infrastructure in 20 years. Lives were lost. And a week later, tens of thousands of homes were still without power.

I was one of those affected. And working as I do on embedding climate action into housing planning and design, seeing the human impact of mass infrastructure failure so close to home reminded me all over again of the urgent need for all of us practitioners in the built environment to re-assess our approach on tackling extreme weather and mitigating against its impact.

Read full article here

Wednesday, 03 November

IT’S TIME TO REDESIGN HOUSING FROM THE BOTTOM UP TOO

By Matthew Nimmo published in the MJ

 

I’ve worked in housing for 20 years, often replacing poorly designed projects with new better-quality ones. ‘Estate regeneration’ has for decades meant ‘tear down and rebuild’ and often framed overhaul as best practice. But when the world’s biggest architecture prize goes to a practice with the motto of ‘never demolish’ and climate activists pile on pressure for sustainable homes, I believe the time has come to redesign our own work.

French architects Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal scooped the 2021 Pritzker Prize for Architecture – referred to as the Nobel Prize for Architecture – for their sensitive refurbishment of post-war social housing blocks. These architects focus on designing social housing from the inside out to prioritise the welfare of a building’s inhabitants and their unanimous desires for larger spaces. Their approach has the potential to be transformative.

Local authorities have always faced a balancing act when deciding what to do with post-war estates. The short-term approach of ‘maintain and refurbish’ has the advantages of managing costs, keeping communities together and minimising disruption to residents from construction works. But demolition and redevelopment has become attractive because it can offer housing that meets a range of income levels as well as helping to sustain local shops and services, which in turn boosts local economies. It can also address poor post-war urban design that often resulted in inward-facing estates with poorly overlooked walkways, dark car parks, and inadequate open spaces and parks.

Read full article here

Wednesday, 13 October

LEVELLING UP ISN’T JUST ABOUT MONEY. IT’S ABOUT GROWTH, REFORM, AND TRUST.

Two years ago, with two words, Boris Johnson set the ultimate challenge for everyone who is working in public services. The freshly-elected Prime Minister’s promise to voters who felt left behind that his party would respond by ‘levelling up’ has sparked countless debates and column inches about what that means and how to do it.

All eyes now are on the new communities secretary Michael Gove, who publishes a white paper on the subject in the coming weeks that will set out his plans. In his recent speech to the Conservative Party conference, Gove said that levelling up meant four things: Strengthening local leadership, raising living standards, improving public services and giving people the resources they need to enhance the pride they felt in the place they live.

However, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak reported this week to be planning cuts of £2 billion for departments including local government and education, even while planning to lift the UK’s tax burden to the highest sustained level in peacetime, the discussion around ‘levelling up’ has quickly turned again to one that focuses on where to cut and where to splurge in a continuation of the give-it-and-take-it-away equation that has dogged our approach to national investment for so long.

Read our full blog post here

Wednesday, September 22

 

BUILDING A MOVEMENT FOR BETTER: IT’S TIME TO MAKE POST-COVID DREAMS A REALITY

Starting work in the aftershocks of a major world event is both the hardest and the most necessary work of all if you are driven by a desire to create and deliver better ways of living.

We set up our business when the true impact of the financial crisis was just starting to be understood, and austerity measures taking grip. We set up as strategic advisors to the public sector at a time when it became clear that public sector money was drying up and delivering good outcomes would require creativity and collaboration.

Now, with the lessons of a decade under our belts, we are gearing up to respond to the challenges of the Covid era. Where familiar elements like squeezed budgets and strain on local government leaders combine with a radically new world ravaged by a pandemic that has exposed both deep inequalities and inadequacies in the public response.

Read our full blog post here

Jamie Ounan

PRESS RELEASE

Tuesday, September 21

 

BARKING AND DAGENHAM COUNCIL CHIEF MOVES TO PUBLIC SERVICE CONSULTANCY INNER CIRCLE

 

Barking and Dagenham Chief Executive Chris Naylor is moving to Inner Circle Consulting after nearly seven years at the helm of the London borough, to focus on “reimagining public services and connecting them fully to the people who need them.”

Naylor, Municipal Journal’s Chief Executive of the Year in 2020, will take up position in January 2022 as Director at Inner Circle, which is currently leading a range of projects in partnership with councils, public services and communities across the UK.

He said: “The pandemic has shown that we need to find answers to big problems, and we need them to work for everyone, for years to come. For the most vulnerable people, what we do next is the difference between barely getting by, and flourishing.”

 

Read our full press release here

Chris Naylor Inner Circle Consulting

LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHRONICLE: NAYLOR TO LEAVE BARKING & DAGENHAM

Barking & Dagenham LBC chief executive Chris Naylor – one of the most prominent chief executives in local government – has announced he is moving to the private sector.

Mr Naylor will in January move to become director of the public service consultancy Inner Circle after nearly seven years in the east London council’s top officer role.

He is understood to be keen to work with as many councils as possible on rethinking their services, in line with how Barking & Dagenham has sought to adopt a more preventative and proactive stance on service provision.

Read the full article here

THE MJ: NAYLOR QUITS COUNCIL FOR CONSULTANCY JOB

Barking and Dagenham LBC chief executive Chris Naylor has announced he will step down after seven years at the council.

Mr Naylor, who was named as The MJ chief executive of the year last year, will join Inner Circle Consulting as a director in January.

Read the full article here