Capital Ambition was established in 2008 as the regional improvement and efficiency partnership for London. Capital Ambition has led and supported London local authorities in realising greater efficiency, performance improvement, innovation and new ways of working together to delivery local public services in the boroughs.
From 2013 to 2020, Capital Ambition has driven innovation in local government through the London Ventures programme.
Capital Ambition secured and directed annual grants towards this mandate of more than £39 million from the Department for Communities and Local Government. By March 2013, Capital Ambition had invested £34 million in improvement and efficiency projects, with further commitments of nearly £3 million to on-going work. Grants ceased in 2010/11.
Within this framework, Capital Ambition worked to meet the challenges and opportunities for London authorities in a dynamic economic and policy context. The resulting Capital Ambition programme developed a rich and broadranging portfolio of 280 individually-funded projects, part projects and discrete pieces of work. Many of these acted as pump-priming or demonstration activities, helping instigate transformational activities within local authorities.
It also included the Leaders’ Committee decision in 2010, to mainstream key areas of Capital Ambition activity to London Councils’ core work. With the national recognition that local government was best placed to understand its performance, self-regulate and continuously improve, the Self-Improvement Board was established under the auspices of the London Chief Executives of London Councils. Growing out of Capital Ambition, this work continues to deliver performance benchmarking and a package of peer support and challenge, tailored to the particular needs of London authorities. Work has also been done to meet changes to the national regimes for Children’s Services and Adult Social Care.
A second area to be mainstreamed concerned local government procurement. The London Procurement Strategy Board works to draw together finance and procurement officers to enable a consistent approach to procurement across London. Within this, work has been done to provide an analysis of contract and third party spend data, helping develop a category management approach and identify the opportunities for further collaborative working. London Councils also works closely with the LGA to ensure that the package of support on offer in the capital brings together a complementary balance of the national programme, enhanced by London-specific elements. This work has helped maximise the benefits for member authorities and avoid duplication of effort.
Although no longer receiving government grant monies to support this work, Capital Ambition has adapted and is meeting this challenge by investing its resources in a new and unique iteration – the enterprising London Ventures initiative – a model for improvement and efficiency into the future. As of August 2020 the London Venture programme has closed.