Government has been told it’s economically rational to spend £62,000 to get a longterm unemployed person on Incapacity Benefit back in to work. Using service design methods has helped Sunderland City Council cut that figure to just £5,000.
Exploring the issues and defining the problem
Designers from service design agency live|work and public sector managers set out to help ‘hard to reach’ people, including those on Incapacity Benefit, overcome health and social barriers to finding work.
Over a three month period, the design team talked to 12 long-term unemployed people to build up a picture of their needs. And they talked to service staff, discovering the extensive but sometimes confusing array of support services available.
Creating a map of service users’ progress from unemployment to work showed that while their journeys were similar, their needs were diverse and a more co-ordinated approach was
needed to help them.
Generating ideas and testing solutions
The project team visualised ideas ranging from a brochure combining training, volunteering and employment opportunities to a vision for a network of community organisations involved in getting people back to work.
Through a series of events, the team prototyped the ideas with community organisations related to specific groups of service users and asked them to get involved and come up with their own proposals. Thirty five expressions of interest were narrowed down to nine projects and the organisations got support to develop, deliver and promote their services.
Seeing the benefits
More than 280 practitioners, employers and service users contributed to the project. The result was a co-ordinated set of services provided by organisations working together, not separately.
The scheme has supported more than 1,000 people, with 275 finding work. According to the Department of Work and Pensions, it is economically rational to spend £62,000 on getting the average person on Incapacity Benefit back into work. The average cost per person for the Make it Work project is less than £5,000.
Watch a video about the Northern Way Worklessness pilot on Vimeo
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