Innovation in Homes: London Ventures

Big Society Capital is actively looking for partners to co-develop investment solutions to provide homes for people in need. Our interview with Thomas Man (Head of Capital Ambition at London Councils) kicks off the “Innovation in Homes” blog series, where we will be highlighting innovative initiatives and partnerships that we have come across.


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Hi Thomas, please tell us more about London Councils and the London Ventures programme. How did it come about and what does it do?

London Councils represents London’s 33 local authorities, and lobbies the government to ensure London boroughs have the resources, freedoms and powers to do the best job possible for their residents. London Councils also runs a number of cross-London services, including the Freedom Pass, and acts as a catalyst for effective sharing among boroughs.

In 2013, London Ventures grew out of Capital Ambition programme (the regional improvement and efficiency partnership for London). It was developed to become a self-sustaining engine for innovation in London local authorities.

London Ventures supports local authorities in two key ways: by identifying and developing innovation solutions to address some of London’s biggest societal issues (our issue-led approach), and by selecting a portfolio of innovative businesses to support and deliver the best value for local authorities (our solution-led approach). The programme enables London’s local authorities to harness new and innovative ideas and technologies – bringing the best of the private sector to transform services and improve outcomes for Londoners.

Why have you decided to examine housing, homelessness and temporary accommodation issues in your first issue-led ventures cycle?

Homelessness at present costs the public sector in excess of £1 billion a year. More than three quarters of this, £845 million, was spent on temporary accommodation. This issue is particularly acute in London as the number of households accepted as homeless since 2011 has increased by 51% in London, compared to 15% nationally.

In addition to these pressures, the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 places considerable new duties and responsibilities on local authorities, estimated to cost an additional £77 million a year in London alone.

What ideas have emerged from the programme so far? How are they offering different approaches in addressing the housing issues facing London?

Around 100 ideas were proposed, ranging from contactless payment jackets to virtual reality job training. We have now selected four to develop and launch:

  1. Modular temporary accommodation: Working with the Greater London Authority and London borough housing directors to provide a flexible cross-London resource of high quality housing using non-permanent sites.
  2. Transition insurance: Working with Southwark and Waltham Forest, together with private and third sector organisations to develop an insurance product that will act as an alternative to rental deposits. This will reduce the upfront costs of living in the private rented sector, and remove the need to fund multiple rental deposits when moving home.
  3. Pan- London property listing platform: A platform listing all properties available for households in need of temporary accommodation, to increase the visibility of options available and enable placements to be made faster.
  4. Predictive analytics:  a tool to enable targeted support and earlier intervention for the homeless.

The emphasis in all these concepts is on expanding innovative ideas across London, making sure the benefits are evident in more than one borough.

What’s next for these ideas and for the London Ventures programme?

These ideas are currently being developed, with the investment of the Capital Ambition Board being matched by over £200,000 from London boroughs, and leveraging in an additional £11 million of external funding.

Next up we will be focusing our approach and energy to look at innovations in the space of children and families.

How can we support you?

To keep up to date with the progress of our work on housing, keep an eye on our news and events page and follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

For our next phase, we are keen to hear from stakeholders involved in children and families service design or delivery across all sectors to join our events programme, and ultimately investors to help support the ideas that emerge - please get in touch –