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Behaviour Changes - Introduction to Applied Behavioural Science and its impact in local government - Presentation by IMPOWER


Debbie Crossan and Geoff Hinks, IMPOWER, made a presentation to the Committee, a copy of which is interleaved


During consideration of the presentation the following main points were made


·         IMPOWER had worked with Local Authorities to develop strategies to change behaviours and develop interventions to do this. Small changes often can make a large impact

·         Complex problems – noted that some behavioural changes may work in one situation and not necessarily in others. Local Authorities are seen as a complex problem and there is a need for behavioural science as people do not always act rationally and strategies are needed to deal with this. Communication programmes need to target awareness and there is a need to understand behaviours in order to influence them

·         Behavioural science tools – a number of these are used to solve complex problems

·         Does behaviour matter? COVID has shown that people’s behaviour can be changed  and there has been a significant shift in behaviour due to COVID

·         Important issues – there needs to be compliance with behavioural change e.g. wearing of face masks, and COVID has presented the opportunity to implement change. A survey has indicated that two thirds of people feel that climate change is as important as COVID

·         Is it ethical to change behaviour? Choices can be presented to people to influence the one that is taken, it is about the right thing to do at the time whilst letting people actually make the choice – examples are the ‘eyes’ campaign and other initiatives as highlighted in the Brent slide

·         There is often a need to present choices in a novel way in order to get interest and engagement

·         Applying behavioural science – Investigation, trial design and complete investigation are needed when applying behavioural science

·         Behavioural change challenge -  can achieve significant change through simple interventions, help to influence change to influence desired behaviours and support local authorities to achieve financial goals and achievement of outcomes

·         In response to a question as to the success of the scheme involving the mural in the reduction of fly-tipping and graffiti it was stated that it was felt that this had been successful as it had involved the community and therefore they felt that they owned it. A Member referred to the ‘eyes’ campaign and that this could be seen as the Council watching residents and that this was not an impression that she felt should be conveyed in Islington, although she recognised that all Councils were different

·         Noted that there is a financial cost to implementing change and that behavioural change often needs to be reinforced

·         There is also a need to think about ‘long term’ goals and that there is an opportunity to build team skills to get a more long term sustainable approach

·         It was felt that the pandemic had shown the importance of community and communication, and the positive thing was that communities coming together and supporting each other

·         In response to a question it was stated that if there is a need to discourage car use, there is the need to look at peoples motivations for car use and challenges, and to stress the importance of essential issues such as the effect on climate change, health of children etc. so that people adapted and changed their behaviour

·         It was stated that COVID had enabled the Government the opportunity to effect behavioural change, and that the public looked to Government and Local Authorities for clear messages, and in some instances the Government’s messages on COVID could have been clearer. The message needs to be as simple as possible in order to communicate effectively


The Chair thanked Debbie Crossan and Geoff Hinks for their presentation