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Jan 23 | Human Engine Insights

Human Engine Insights is our monthly digest of what's happening in our world. Each edition will include industry news and thought pieces from our team on what's happening within the private and public sector.

Blooming Nora... We're turning FIVE.

Half of UK start-ups fail within the first five years, which is an alarming statistic for any business owner. In the past few years, with a pandemic and economic crisis unfolding, this milestone is an even bigger achievement. We're excited as on February 19th we can declare we've passed that mark! We have a jam-packed schedule of content via our social channels/blogs/website, including reflections from our Managing Director, interviews with #TeamEngine, our Birthday Party Celebrations and client updates... That’s not all, we have a few big announcements to share too! Shh. More on this next time...

Back to business, please keep reading our monthly insights below.

Shaking the Magic Money Tree...

The year has kicked off with a big development. After several delays and mired in bureaucracy, the UK Government have finally announced the results of the second round of the Levelling Up Fund. More than 100 projects were awarded a share of £2.1 billion from Round 2 of the government’s flagship Levelling Up Fund to create jobs and boost the economy. Combined with first-round results, announced in October 2021, the Levelling Up Fund has awarded £3.8 billion to 216 projects.

Huge congratulations to councils on the successful bids, projects including:

✅ £50m for Crossrail Cardiff - a new train line between Cardiff Bay and Cardiff Central Station

✅ Nearly £27m for a roll-on, roll-off ferry for Fair Isle in Shetland

✅ £40m for a carbon-neutral education campus in Blackpool town centre

✅ £20m to go towards the regeneration of Gateshead Quays, including a new arena, exhibition centre and hotels

✅ £5.1m to build new female changing rooms in 20 rugby clubs across Northern Ireland

✅ Just over £19m to improve public spaces in Hackney Central, east London

✅ £45m to help the Port of Dover operate more efficiently, including adding more border control points

It's not been all good news - The process of council vs council in the bidding process has left many with a bad taste in their mouth. Leaders were disappointed after their levelling up fund bids were rejected with one saying it was a “kick in the teeth”. A similar scenario unfolded in round one with two-thirds of bids rejected, according to the analysis of newly released Whitehall figures.

Those bids included the most deprived authorities in some regions. On a positive note - for those who have secured funding, we're excited about the outcome.

If your organisation was amongst the 111 successful bids... Now it's time to deliver…. But where to start? Staggeringly, research suggests that 70% of projects fail.

Human Engine has unrivalled experience of supporting local government to successfully deliver programmes, maximising outcomes and impact.

Our MSP, PRINCE2 and Agile programme and project managers bring clarity to ambiguity and structure to complexity. Our pragmatic and results-focused professionals will help drive your projects to a successful conclusion.

For the last year, we’ve been supporting Barnsley Council to deliver their Community Renewal Programme and Economic Renewal Action Plan Programme.

The projects delivered a range of benefits including safeguarding hundreds of businesses and jobs, creating employment, providing education and training, increasing inward investment and volunteering activity.

Don’t just take our word for it…

“Having the Human Engine PMO capacity in place is recognised as being a real strength…. The programme is underpinned by Human Engine’s strong, successful and widely supported programme management function.”

Head of Economic Development, Barnsley MBC.

Our experience makes Human Engine the perfect partner to support you to successfully deliver your LUF2 ambitions.

CLICK HERE to book some time with Michael Curnow, Commercial Director, for an initial conversation. It's very easy with our no-faff scheduler...

Case Study: Oldham MBC: Housing Options Service Review

The Context:

Housing demand is higher than ever, and Oldham Council's housing services were overwhelmed to the point of crisis as a result of unprecedented demand, resulting in long wait times, frustrated customers, and a growing backlog, all at the expense of staff wellbeing.

The Requirement:

The Human Engine team were asked to undertake an independent review of the Housing Options service in order to suggest potential transformation and improvement activity. The review's objective was to enable the service to move from reactive service provision, to more preventative place-based delivery, using an evidence base to inform such actions. The review was conducted along five key lines of enquiry around which, the key challenges and opportunities were identified:

  1. Demand - analysing the demand currently received by the service and evaluating the methods for reducing or repositioning the service's demand will help to ease the backlog in the short term, and work towards a new preventative, place-based operating model in the future

  2. Key processes and systems - assessing the extent to which current processes and systems are fit for purpose and how they could be improved to aid with efficiency

  3. Customer access - evaluating the current modes of customer access and providing recommendations about how increasing a service’s accessibility, or indeed decreasing it, can help the service to stand up to the future

  4. Resources and staffing - recognising the huge value that the service's staff bring to its offering and assessing ways in which their welfare can be prioritised in order to improve retention and satisfaction rates. Similarly, drawing attention to gaps in resourcing and how these can be filled is vital.

  5. Performance - considering the performance measures and standards that the service must adhere to and seeking opportunities to further improve the service's performance.

The Programme:

The Human Engine team used its service review methodology as an approach to this project. Using this methodology, Lines of Enquiry were agreed from the outset and supplemented with the desk based analysis and stakeholder engagement which followed.

The Outcomes:

Despite the timescale of this project being relatively short, the team have been able to deliver a series of evidence-based recommendations which will help to guide the Housing Options service out of crisis in the short-term, and towards a new delivery model in the medium to long term. This transformation will enable the Housing Options team to:

  • Manage their demand, cleansing their existing data and clearing their backlog

  • Provide a more efficient service, reducing the number of caseloads allocated to each officer and setting realistic, yet helpful timeframes for their customers

  • Move towards locality working, aligning to the council's place-based approach

  • Focus on prevention management, reducing the risk of future housing crises in the long term

  • Successfully manage their resources, filling vacant staff positions and increasing staff satisfaction and retention

Our Service Review Methodology ensures service transformation is informed, relevant and tailored. For more information on how can help, please contact Tom Mills, Principal Consultant ( or Jenny Woolcock, business analyst, (

CCIN Affiliate Member - Officially!

Excited to reveal Human Engine has been approved as an affiliate member of the CCIN. 🤩

The Co-operative Councils' Innovation Network (CCIN) is a collaboration between local authorities who are committed to finding better ways of working for, and with, local people for the benefit of their local community. There are over 120 members and we’re thrilled to be amongst great company.

Human Engine is really looking forward to working with CCIN, the Councils and various Non-Governmental Organisations. Human engine has been around since 2018, in that time we’re proud to have worked with over 30 public sector organisations and have oodles of innovative ideas to share. We want to help councils thrive and open to conversations with other members to make this happen.

A big thank you to CCIN ops lead Nicola Huckerby for making us feel so welcome!

Look out for further developments in the near future…

About Human Engine

Human Engine is a leading management consultancy with specialisms in strategy, change, digital, commercial, procurement and projects. We work with local authorities, central government, charities and NHS organisations nationally to help transform their strategies, operations and cultures to improve outcomes for customers and communities.

If you wish to find out more about us - Visit Our Website

Until Next Time!

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