iESE Designing and Implementing Innovative Public Services since 2004

From the outset iESE knew that efficiency, although not simple, was not enough.  For local pubic services to be financially sustainable and to meet the needs of residents and business they needed to be completely reinvented.  In fact the ananlysis of spend on local public services that supported these conclusions was itself an innovation at the time.  iESE has continuously sought new ways to achieve public service outcomes.  This timeline gives some of the milestones along the way, something that iESE and its member authorities are justifiably proud of and lessons that we love to share ... in exchange for the leessons that you can share with us.

iESE Innovation is in our DNA
2004 - iESE established as a public sector partnership

iESE began life as an informal partnership of councils, police authorities and fire authorities in the south east England.  The challenge has always been to deliver "more with less".

iESE conducted the first analysis of local government expenditure.  Establishing iESE’s reputation for evidence driven innovation by analysing every item purchased by 30 councils.  This enabled the creation of a program of work targetting the largest spend and price variation.

iESE has always been a partnership of public organisations and every one has something to offer.  A number of councils stepped forward to coordinate the work in each of the areas of spend.

2005 - the first complex care pricing tool

Social care has always been the biggest driver of spend and this has increased over time.  For complex packages of care the price for an individual resident is measured in hundreds of thousands. The idea was to create a tool that calculated the fair price for a fair package of care.  The tool, which became the Care Funding Calculator, was developed in collaboration with both commissioners and service providers.  Developing the first pricing tool for complex care placements, saved 13% - 15% on new placements with £3.7m saved in year one.

2006 - the first regional procurement portal

In order to target savings through the best available deals iESE commissioned the creation of a regional contracts portal.  The portal also created a platform that for each authority allowed better contract management and for groups of the authorities to collaborate.  The first portal was taken up by 64 councils in the first year with 3000 contracts and 2000 suppliers.

2007 - the first national analysis of council spend

In order to expand the collaboration across local government iESE led the analysis of expenditure of local governemnt in England.  This first ever analysis of the local government expenditure in the whole of England was a structured analysis of every item purchased by all English councils in a 12 month period.

This required the creation of a new classification system which iESE led and still exists as the basis of reporting council expenditure.

By 2007 the councils working as a part of the iESE partnership had reported that lifetime iESE savings exceeded £50m.

2008 - the first joint management of two councils

Adur District and Worthing Borough Councils had a track record of working together for 7 years starting with a joint waste service.  The councils to the decision to completely merge their officer teams.  This was the first voluntary merger of two councils and a brave decision of the councillors.

The project, which saved £2m a year from the outset, formed the basis of a pattern amongst District Councils and eventually amongst larger authorities.  The iESE team retained and developed the knowledge of how to bring together public bodies, a set of skills that has proved essential to the sector in subsequent years.

2009 - the first online social prescribing pilot

Since the first analysis of local government expenditure it was clear that the escalating costs of social care would put pressure on all other areas of local government service. Therefore from the outset IESE pursued two parallel strategies of improving services and delivering efficiencies as well as reinventing the way local government achieved its outcomes.

One early experiment was in stimulating interest in creating online services that could match residents with the need for support with support both formal and informal within their community.  The project, called Carebay, brought together a number of digital companies to pilot the first online person centred care planning service.

2010 - reshaping the South East construction market

One of the largest areas of local governemnt expenditure and one that has a major effect on our communities is construction.  From theatres to leisure centres to schools.  At the time the average cost overrun in local government was 24%.  iESE worked closely with industry to learn the lessons of how to make things better and less cost.

iESE developed a construction framework for London and the South East.  After 6 months cost overruns were down and iESE was achieving 1 school free for every 9 built.  The schools themselves were winning design awards but iESE was able to deliver far more.

Coordinating construction in this way allowed iESE to bring standards in for recycling materials on-site.  Similarly iESE was able to work with the group of construction companies to arrange for apprenticeships.

Whilst the programme of work for iESE was far reaching it was only a part of the work being conducted by local government to deliver services in new ways of working.  Sharing lessons learned on behalf of the sector has always been important.  As a result iESE launched the first awards scheme for local government transformation.


2011 - turning poorest performer into top quartile

iESE has provided support to coucils struggling to improve from the outset and contiues to provide that support.

A new member and officer leadership at Eastbourne Borough Council needed to turn around the council.  The council was the poorest performing in the south east of England and needed support in all aspects of its operation.

iESE provided support that enabled Eastbourne to become a top quartile performer only 18 months after Eastbourne Borough was branded as the worst authority in the South East.  Following this transformation Eastbourne went on to become With iESE support Eastbourne goes on to become the first fully transformed completely remodelled around the customer with digital business processes.

By this stage iESE public bodies had reported lifetime iESE savings in excess of £250m.

2012 - legal research on public sector collaboration

Prior to the election of the coalition government iESE was listed as one of the 'quango's' that should be closed.  Following a visit from the then Shadow Minster, Bob Neil MP iESE was praised for its work and asked to work with the wider public sector.

iESE prepared for a new phase in its life funded by its activities rather than government grant.  In preparing for the next phase iESE board of elected members considred the principles for iESE's future operation.  The Board wished iESE to work in the intersts of local public services as a whole:

- as a not for profit organisation so that all members, old and new members would be equal

- that any surplus generated would be used for the benefit of the sector, through research and development on new ways of working and as a support to those deemed struggling

In preparation for incorporation iESE researched the pros and cons of every form of legal entity for collaboration across the public sector.  As a result iESE was formed as a mutual by virtue of public sector ownership. 


2013 - halving the cost of transforming a council

Using the experience of the transformation of Eastbourne iESE led the transformation of South Hams and West Devon Councils.  The programme that iESE led was broader than that conducted in Eastbourne, including the first total transformation of culture through a behavioural framework and assessment of every member of staff.

The learning from Eastbourne and iESE leading the transformation programme the transfromation was achieved at less than half the cost of of the Eastbourne programme.

By this time iESE membership had grown into other regions of England and spread into Wales and Northern Ireland.

2014 - reorganisation of NI local government

In 2014 iESE launched as the public sector’s first transformation social enterprise – a not for profit mutual owned by 13 founding councils.

In the same year, in recognition of its unique expereince in bringing together councils, iESE was invited to support the reorganisation of Northern Ireland local government fro 26 councils down to 11.  IESE worked with the councils to create a transformation toolkit that guided the councils through a challenging time.  IESE also provided hands on support to some of the councils in delivering their new organisation.

2015 - pioneering behavioural assessment

iESE pioneers the assessment of staff using behaviours. The first whole council assessment of all staff on behaviours reducing costs by 30% and increasing performance.

iESE pioneers the first online service for complex care commissioning.  Allowing analysis of care markets nationally.

2016 - halving the cost of transforming ... again

iESE establishes its reputation of delivering twice the value at less than half the market price for transformation by once again halving the cost of totally transforming a council.  Ryedale achieves payback in less than 12 months - payback of all costs in the same year the new organisation goes live.

iESE Membership now exceeds 50 public bodies and breaks into Scotland

iESE gains the support of over 100 councils for a new framework for transformation with the publication of its White Paper “From Surviving to Thriving”

2017 - iESE lifetime savings exceed £1 Billion

iESE completes its first 3 years as Local Governments First Transformation Social Enterprise

Lifetime iESE savings exceeds £1 Billion

Lifetime entries to the iESE Transformation Awards exceeds 2000

2018 -