The Department for Work and Pensions is the largest of our public sector organisations. In 2016 it spent £240 billion in comparison to the NHS that spent £145 billion. 31% of our total national expenditure is spent by the DWP.
The UK's public employment service, Jobcentre Plus is to many people is the face of the DWP and it is the touch point that impacts millions of people within the UK.
Whether you are a claimant who feels that the experience of attending the Jobcentre can be improved, an employee of the Jobcentre who wants a better and more impactful career, a third party who works alongside the DWP and wants a more effective and efficient working relationship or a member of the public who cares about how their tax contributions are used, creating a better, more effective, more cost efficient Jobcentre for the future is good for everyone, regardless of your circumstances or political viewpoint.
Future Jobcentre is a movement to create a better Jobcentre for the customers who use it, the employees who work in it, the third parties who work with and alongside it and the public at large.
It aims to engage and work with citizens throughout the country who use their own skills to develop solutions to the challenges the current system faces and add these solutions to the Future Jobcentre movement which aims to take these solutions and bring them together in a symbiotic way to change the operation, effectiveness and efficiency of the Jobcentre as a system.
Question: Does this short explanation adequately describe what it is I'm working on. How can this "elevator pitch" be improved?
The five groups;
Third Party organisations
One of the key tenets of what I’m working on is that regardless of age, class, employment status or political opinion an efficient and effective JobCentre is good for everyone.
Physical - How does the physical design of the Jobcentre affect how it operates? What can we do to improve the physical space in order to create a better service for everyone involved?
Relational - How does the way that employees interact with claimants, the DWP interact with third party partners and the system as a whole interact with the public affect the quality of service and value for money provided by the JobCentre? How can this be improved?
Processes - How does the bureaucracy and processes that are essential to the operation of the Jobcentre affect it’s performance? How can these be improved to increase efficiency, make the system inclusive and avoid the numerous problems they cause?
Question: Do these three broad areas generally cover the Jobcentre system? What needs to be added?
Improve the quality of service that the claimant receives so that they receive the best possible help that enables them to find either work or a suitable future plan.
Make working at the Jobcentre a more rewarding and enjoyable experience than it currently is.
Enable third party organisations to work more effectively and efficiently alongside the DWP to deliver quality services.
Create a Jobcentre that delivers a much higher value for money to the UK taxpayer.
Here are a few questions to think about which so far have been influential in the way we think about the Future Jobcentre project.
If the Jobcentre didn’t exist would we invent it now?
What should a Jobcentres aims and objectives be?
Who should the Jobcentre be for?
Why do people access the Jobcentre?
Why don’t people access the Jobcentre?
How should I be able to access the Jobcentres services without entering it physically?
Question: Am I missing something? Do these four broad areas adequately cover what I need to be working on?
Engage the wider public to get involved and add their voices, ideas, opinions and skills to the wider Future Jobcentre project.
By creating a system where individuals and groups can contribute to the wider project by working on a specific area that suits their interests and expertise we enable people to get involved in creating a solution without being overwhelmed by the complexity and vastness of the Jobcentre as a whole.
In addition to this we'll be complimenting this data with desk research, expert input and information and skills from various sources, link them together and highlight their symbiotic nature in order to eventually create a fuller picture of a way in which the Jobcentre can be systemically improved.
At this stage the process is deliberately open ended. We want to engage as many people as possible from as many different backgrounds as possible to see what kind of interest, data and ideas we get back. We will use this to decide where to focus in future.
Question: Do you have any ideas on the most effective way I can combine desk research, expert input and community feedback to create tangible, effective plans on how the Jobcentre can be improved?
The current Future Jobcentre data collection system is a simple form on a free Tumblr blog. This allows interested parties to submit their ideas, stories and feedback to me with either their name attached or anonymously which are then kept in accordance with the Data Protection Act / GDPR.
The Future Jobcentre process revolves around creating a transparent, hugely accessible platform that enables people from all walks of life to contribute as equals to a complex systemic problem without worrying about the scale themselves. In addition to this outreach programmes and events will allow people to add their input even if they struggle with online platforms. The idea is that anyone, regardless of their circumstances will have the oppertunity to contribute if they wish to.
The Future Jobcentre model itself has value and can be applied to all sorts of objectives and projects that require the input of large amounts of people from varying walks of life and therefore the creation, development and refinement of the Future JobCentre model has commercial applications as the model can be modified for use by various organisations / projects in the future.
Put simply the Future Jobcentre process itself is of tangible value which could be sold to other organisations who are looking to engage a large audience in order to crowdsource their skills and experience.
Question: What issues does my current data collection process have? How can this be refined in the future? My plan is to create a website where this can be expanded and improved, what would you like to see on version 1.0 of that site?
A rough stripped back highly simplified process flow of how the initial stages of the Future Jobcentre operates.
Huge amounts of interest from the public, academics and social entrepreneurs in the project, the approach I’m taking and the unique viewpoint and skillset I bring to the task.
I need funding in order to capitalise on this interest and build on the momentum that has already been generated with a barebones zero budget campaign.
Question: I'm currently overwhelmed with interest and people contacting me. How should I prioritise how I spend my time?
Based off the back of public interest in FutureJobcentre I was asked to talk to documentary film company Rebels Without A Pause about the current state of the UK welfare system / JobCentre
I have experience as a Jobcentre claimant, Jobcentre employee, employee of a third party who worked closely with the Jobcentre and as a socially conscious member of the public. Simply put I have experienced the Jobcentre from the viewpoint of the four audiences we want to target.
I have invested a lot of time over the last year through the Beyond UnEmployment programme at Impact Hub Birmingham developing the concept and testing it to great initial success.
I am a self employed professional with experience of building projects and movements. Over the last few years I have been involved with the development of TEDxBrum, LoveBrum, Impact Hub Birmingham and my own businesses.
I care deeply about this project. I have been writing about it and putting work into it long before I considered looking into creating a bigger movement and seeking investment. When developing Future Jobcentre I concentrated on creating a solution to the problem not an investible business model.
Question: What skills am I missing? What am I going to need to make this a success? Do you have the skills that I need and are you willing to help?
With the DWP / Jobcentre being so large it impacts every other public sector service we provide within the UK and this allows for a large amount of potential crossover with other projects / social enterprises.
You can take pretty much any social issue facing the UK today and at one level it will tie in to what I’m working on.
Older people - One of the hardest groups to move out of unemployment is the over 50’s. The current Jobcentre doesn’t differentiate between it’s claimants which means that older people do not receive the specialist support they need to enable them to move quickly back into employment.
Younger people - At the moment school age children who are at risk of becoming NEET aren’t provided any specialist support until they leave school and start claiming Universal Credit. There is the potential to provide specialist support to school age children to prevent post GCSE unemployment as opposed to trying to fix it once they are already claiming.
Health - The health of an unemployed person is statistically lower than that of a employed person in nearly every single measurable area. An very extensive 40 year study showed the risk of a premature death was 63% higher for an unemployed person than it is for someone in full time employment.
Crime - A 1% rise in the poverty rate directly correlates to a 1% rise in the violent crime rate.
Childcare - Childcare professionals are some of the largest recipients of in work benefits. In addition lack of access to affordable childcare is one of the primary reasons that parents, especially lone parents choose not to find employment.
Housing - Lack of affordable housing and legislation and procedures around access to housing benefit are some of the biggest strains the DWP benefit system has on it today.
Immigration - On one side of the coin the total amount of immigrants claiming benefits jumped from 65,000 in 2008 to 130,000 in 2013. On the other side of the coin the complexity of accessing the benefit system for many immigrants leads them into a life of poverty, illegal work and crime.
Question: What areas of symbosis should I focus on? Where can you add value to Future Jobcentre by linking your work to what I'm doing?
Stage 0 (Already Complete)
A year of work through the Beyond (Un)Employment programme developing the FutureJobCentre idea.
Research into the current state of the Jobcentre. Research included interviewing claimants and staff, looking into available data and consulting with academics working in this field.
Launch of the project to the public to generate interest, feedback and qualitative data.
Development of a future plan.
Stage 1 - Generate Funding (Current stage)
Generate funding that is required to pay for ongoing costs.
Maintain momentum with regards to public interest.
Continue to collect data and information that is being submitted to me.
Continue to build up networks with interested parties who can add value going forward.
Stage 2 - Building Infrastructure
Use funding to build the necessary infrastructure.
Website that both provides information on the project and acts as a tool to allow users to submit feedback and data.
Create a brand and visual identity.
Write copy that targets various audiences.
Create a strong, accessible mission for the project.
Launch website, brand and mission to the public and actively work to drive exposure and submissions.
Stage 3 - Research Led Prototyping
Use the platform, interest and data to bring people together to start prototyping solutions to the issues the JobCentre faces. This may be done online, through hack days and events or through working one to one with individuals / groups.
Share design process / prototypes with the FutureJobCentre community to maintain interest in what we're doing and generate feedback.
Identify the strongest prototypes for future development.
Stage 4 - Tangible Future
Expand on the strongest prototypes and ideas that have been developed so far and discover how these could be built and sustained for public use.
Explore options on how these prototypes or the concepts behind these prototypes can be implemented into the public JobCentre system.
Consider opportunities to use these prototypes / ideas for revenue generation in order to fund the ongoing costs of running the Future JobCentre project.
Question: Does this look like a good first year plan? What am I missing? What should I focus on? Does the order of operations make sense?
I need to generate some funding to cover a few areas over the next year.
Initial infrastructure costs - Website, hosting, copywriting, brand, design.
Event costs - FutureJobCentre hack days. Outreach programmes.
Research costs - Time to research, write, read and develop the project moving forward.
Question: Am I missing something? Are their costs that I haven't and should account for?
A fresh perspective on the issue. Currently the people working on this are either DWP employees or academics. I exist outside of both of these worlds and it gives me a unique ability to work without constraint alongside people from all walks of life to generate data and solutions based on the needs of varied groups in a research and data led systemic way.
Alongside lots of quantitive data I will also collect vast amounts of qualitative data from the public, benefit claimants, DWP staff and third parties that will bring a richness and humanity to the project. Stories, interviews, videos and photography alongside data will bring the story and the need to make change to life.
I really care about this. I didn't sit around and try to think up a business plan to grab myself funding I sat around and developed a model to solve a complex systemic challenge, it's only now that I've got to the point where I want to expand this and make a real difference that I'm seeking some funding to get it to where it needs to be.
Question: What have I missed? Is there something that I'm going to have to give in order to make this a success?
Get in contact with me and share your experiences of the Jobcentre. Maybe you were a claimant, maybe you know someone who is or was, maybe you work at the DWP, maybe you work with a organisation who is impacted by the DWP. Nearly everyone has a link in some way or another and I need your stories, ideas and feedback.
Share what I'm doing with the world. The more people who know about this and get involved the better.
Share with me your skills and time. Maybe you're a web developer, an artist, a social worker, a teacher or a rocket scientist. When it comes to tackling huge systemic challenges like this people with skills from all areas are extremely valuable. Even if you can't see how your skills fit just yet drop me a message and we can figure something out together.
There's no way around the fact that I'm going to need funding to make this as impactful as possible. Give me money, hire me to do something or speak to me about opportunities you know of. If you have any ideas on how I can go about getting some cash in the bank so I can move this on from doing it in my spare time to being able to invest a substantial amount of my working day into this whilst still be able to keep my lights on drop me a message.
If you have any questions or are interested in helping in any way please use the below form to get in touch or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org