Nottingham Systems Thinking Pilot
Background to the Pilot
Following the RADICAL project and the recommendations in the resulting report – It’s the System Stupid! Radically Rethinking Advice, Nottingham City Council’s Welfare Rights Service and the Advice Nottingham group of agencies held discussions with AdviceUK in late 2008 and agreed to implement a systems thinking approach to advice services in Nottingham.
AdviceUK’s RADICAL study showed that a large amount of demand for advice services is brought about by the failure of public bodies like the Department of Work and Pensions or HM Revenue & Customs to get things right. System conditions such as fixed fees and contractual specifications introduced under recent Legal Aid reforms hinder the ability of agencies to respond to client need.
The report recommended piloting a systems thinking approach in order to examine in detail how advice services operate as part of a wider system that includes public bodies, funders and regulators. Such a project would identify the demand for advice services and the system conditions that exist. It would lead to redesign of advice services from a client perspective.
Nottingham City Council had already applied systems thinking to housing and council tax benefits administration. Advice Nottingham was established to take a strategic overview of advice services in Nottingham and their development and is comprised: of Meadows, Clifton, Bestwood and St. Ann’s Advice Centres, Nottingham & District Citizens Advice Bureau, Nottingham Law Centre and Notts Housing Advice . Both bodies were interested in the RADICAL critique and in piloting the systems thinking approach to advice.
The Baring Foundation had funded the RADICAL project agreed to provide a grant to support the work in Nottingham.
AimsThe project aim is to improve advice services for local people in Nottingham from a bottom-up and early intervention perspective.
The objectives for the project are:
- To improve advice services through design from the customers perspective
- To identify and remove waste from the advice system
- To reduce failure demand through preventative work and early intervention
- To develop a methodology for continuous improvement
- To capture knowledge that can bring about change in policy and strategy and provide the basis for negotiation with the Legal Services Commission, Department of Work and Pension and other funders and regulators.
- An advice service in Nottingham designed around the needs of clients
- The commissioning of advice services in Nottingham being informed by the findings of the research and being responsive to emerging need
- Advice agencies in Nottingham and Nottingham City Council working together in a co-ordinated way, responsive to knowledge based client demand
Radically Rethinking Advice Services in Nottingham - November 2009
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