14 November 2012

Could this £65,000 have been better spent?

I write in response to your follow up request, below. We have processed your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). Under the Act you should have received a response within 20 working days. I apologise for the failure to meet this deadline. (The question was submitted on 3 February and answered on 13 September 2012!)


1. Project Overview

iMPOWER, as one of the Council’s strategic implementation partners, has worked with the council to develop a range of opportunities to improve waste and recycling performance and reduce costs through a focus on resident behaviour change.

The intention of the project was to inform the development of a new strategy for improving waste and recycling performance based on analysis of both demand-side (customer behavioural change insight) and supply-side (service delivery) opportunities, both in the short and long term.

Using the Values Modes model, discussion groups of customers provided insight into the drivers for waste and recycling behaviour, enabling the development of demand-side solutions as well as changes in the service delivery model. The project identified opportunities and brought these together into a clear strategy, supported by the evidence generated.

There is a clear ambition - consistently held by both members and officers - to improve significantly upon Barnet’s relatively low recycling rate of around 33% (15th of 33 boroughs in London in 2011/12). In the majority of cases this is motivated by financial drivers with disposal and treatment costs set to increase, but environmental and reputational concerns are still important to consider.

We have explored a number of opportunities for improvement and assessed their likely impact on performance and budget.

2. Breakdown of Activity

iMPOWER work/input
LBB work/input
Stakeholder engagement
Meetings with councillors & senior officers
Conducted interviews
Customer insight
We conducted 120 telephone interviews and ran 6 discussion groups with Barnet residents from both flats and houses. We segmented individuals into three ‘values modes’ groups - settlers, prospectors and pioneers - for these discussion groups.
- Telephone survey / recruitment to focus groups
- Discussion Group topic guides
- Facilitation of focus groups
Financial modelling
The building of a robust financial model to analyse a range of opportunities leading to a range of scenarios.
- Research into a range of initiatives around the country
- Development of assumptions Opportunity assessment
- Development of 10 year financial model
Scenario modelling
Provision of data
Challenge and quality assurance
Reporting findings to various audiences
- Presentation to the Leader, the Deputy Leader & the portfolio holder
- Presentation to overview & scrutiny committee
Contribution to cabinet paper
- Writing summary report on findings
Writing cabinet paper

3. Other relevant information

Please see Cabinet Report available on the council’s website here.

What are Values Modes?

Values Modes explain emotions, attitudes and motivations that inform demand.

Values are beliefs that are tied inextricably to emotion – not objective, cold ideas – and, as such they operate largely subconsciously.

They are a motivational construct – referring to desirable goals people strive to attain. They can change over time. They serve as standards and criteria for choices of all kinds.

How does it work?

By analysing responses to a series of multiple choice questions, the model calculates value mode.

At the simplest level, there are 3 value modes: settler, prospector and pioneer (the model also sub-divides these into 12 categories).

Where does the model come from?

The model is run by a specialist values data firm and is based on over 50 years of international research and over 37 years of British research. The Values Modes are an articulation of the Maslovian hierarchy of needs.

Data inputs include a 2008 British Values survey that asked questions of 8500 representative respondents.

What do you think?

So for £65,000 we have purchased a pretty report in order to help develop a strategy, we didn't even get a strategy for that huge sum, and not a single extra piece of recycling has been generated (except from the people who were interviewed or who came to a discussion group), although copies of the report once it has gathered dust for a while can go into the black box.

Does anyone agree with Mr Mustard that for £65,000 the council could have employed two people who walked around the borough for a year preceding the recycling lorries and knocked on doors where there is no evidence of recycling and simply asked "why?" which would have nudged some people into starting?

Stuff the theory, do the practical. All you need to know is why specific individuals aren't recycling and encourage them to.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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