A collaborative model for citizen information & support

How can organisations collaborate to improve debt & welfare support?

As part of the Transformation Challenge Award, Cornwall Council and their partners are looking to design a radically different approach to the delivery of information and support services. The aim is to design a system that will encourage collaboration between service providers, improve services for citizens and save money by reducing preventable demand for information and support.

Transforming Information and Support

A collaborative model for change

Project background

Public services are operating in an increasingly resource-constrained environment. At the same time, demand for high cost intensive services is spiralling out of control. Organisations are under huge pressure and citizens risk being undermined. How public services are provided in the future, and by whom, requires a fundamental re-examination and possibly a radically different approach.

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) set up a ‘Transformation Challenge Award’ (TCA) Fund to support public service transformation. This fund was available to help local authorities re-engineer their business practices and redesign service delivery. In October 2014, Cornwall Council – supported by five organisations from the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector – submitted a successful bid to improve how Cornwall Council works with the VCSE Sector and encourage ambitious plans to work in partnership.

The VCSE sector is highly valued by the Council – approximately £77m of Cornwall Council’s addressable revenue budget is spent with organisations in the VCSE sector. However, as central government funding is reduced, cuts to some of these services are planned. It is essential that the skills and experience in the VCSE sector are harnessed to ensure that citizens continue to be supported – particularly the most vulnerable client groups.


Cornwall Council comissioned Made Open to provide Service Design support to TCA. With an initial focus on debt and welfare support, we began the project by conducting a strategic review of 60 Council commissioned Information Advice and Guidance (IAG) contracts. This revealed that a lack of collaboration between partners was causing failure demand. We then conducted resident engagement across the county which highlighted that many citizens have complex needs, requiring organisations to work together better to ensure a person’s whole needs are being met. We identified a number of issues and opportunities for improvement in the whole system.


Together with service providers and residents, we have co-designed a collaborative service delivery model that we believe will:

  • Reduce ‘preventable’ demand and support people to effectively manage their debt and welfare (prevention).
  • Improve how people access useful and relevant information and support (access).
  • Ensure people are signposted and referred to well-suited partners (referral).
  • Encourage citizens to utilise low-cost information channels and self-help tools (digital).
  • Ensure information collection, diagnosis and quality of IAG is consistent (assessment).
  • Measure performance and develop a whole picture of service delivery (measurement).

Designing a ‘whole system’ service blueprint

Notes: Some of the recommendations proposed in the Service Blueprint require a contractually bound approach that is viable to both Cornwall Council and delivery partners.

  1. Consortium
    Firstly, we have proposed a formal consortium with different membership levels supporting partnership working. Proposed membership structure as follows: Full member: AQS accredited partner able to deliver Information and Support to citizens with complex needs; and support the professional development of other members. Associate member: Non-matrix accredited standard Council commissioned organisations who deliver Information and Support within their field of expertise. Affiliate member: Non-commissioned organisations, community groups or volunteers who deliver Information and Support services within their communities.
  2. Shared case management
    Joined up case management system to help partners connect around the needs of citizens with complex needs.
  3. Shared performance management. Create policies and procedures to measure the collective impact of consortium partners.
  4. Formation of a communications work group. Developing far-reaching campaigns focused on prevention and early intervention.
  5. Information sharing protocols. An agreement to capture and share real-time data and information (when/ where relevant and by permission of citizen).
  6. New digital services. Implement user friendly digital services to help citizens access Information and Support at point of need. Link to one of the prototypes which demonstrates how partners can help people to help themselves here.
  7. Channel shift. A process for encouraging low-need citizens to use digital channels and self-help tools instead where appropriate.
  8. Consistent contact and well-being checks. A partner-wide strategy for capturing key information and feedback from citizens.
  9. A common needs assessment process. A universal approach to complex needs assessment that meets consistent quality standards.
  10. Regular service evaluation (commissioners and consortium members). The on-going collection and evaluation of performance data to monitor supply and demand.

Click here to view a summary version of the service blueprint.

Cornwall Council and service delivery partners are now working together to develop feasibility and implementation plans for these recomendations.

For more information about the project, please contact robert@madeopen.co.uk