We’ve been working with Hackney Council and MadeTech, collaboratively redesigning their Benefits and Housing Needs. We’re inviting you to follow our work through shared sprint notes as we design a service which is easily understood, fair, accessible and beneficial to Hackney residents. These sprint notes were first published by Hackney. You can follow our process on HackIT, and the other great work happening at Hackney Council.

After an incredible Show & Share with over 100 people, and a number of stories being shared the team was energised to get started and plan our next phase of work. As we’ve moved with pace over the last few weeks, we wanted to take a breath and make sure we’re laying sustainable foundations.

What we’re going to deliver over the next two months

SMS Tool & Document Upload

The SMS tool continues to get great feedback from the service, and numbers are increasing in the number of texts being sent to residents. The service is sending an average of 180 texts per week. With 30% of residents engaging and replying to a message.

I’m using it a lot and in light of what’s going on at the moment. It’s a superb tool in getting documents from claimants quickly.

Benefits and Housing Needs Officer, Benefits Team

The tool is proving itself effective in checking in with residents and nudging them to complete actions and provide information quickly.

The document upload tool allows a resident to take a picture of the required evidence and share it with the service. Information uploaded by residents in testing has included Universal Credit documents and medical information. There have been more and more documents uploaded, and we’ve learnt a lot about what needs to be in the next iteration.

The uploader is a quicker way of accessing documents from our claimants. It would be great if there was some way to differentiate between which documents are for other officers.

Benefits and Housing Needs Officer, Benefits Team

Stay tuned as we start to implement some changes over the next two weeks to provide staff with an improved experience.

Shared Plan

Hackney shared plan

The main focus of this sprint was to make sure the Shared Plan had a stable base to build off. During the last phase, we were making light prototypes so we could test and iterate rapidly. Now we have to lay the groundwork to make sure the Shared Plan meets privacy and data requirements while making sure we have a proper process to squash bugs as they come.

Hackney sprint vision

Therefore there was a lot of amazing work happening behind the scenes. Re-building the technology so the experience in the front is usable and polished. The team also started to turn the vision into a minimum viable version; prioritising the features that had to be there first and we hope to start testing the new design with staff over the coming weeks.

Hackney sprint design
Hackney sprint learnings

Understanding Vulnerability

Hackney understanding vulnerability

If you remember a few sprint notes ago, we were talking about Understanding Vulnerability. If you’ve been wondering where those updates have gone, the team decided to pause the work, focus on iterating and scaling the SMS Tool and designing the Document Upload tool due to the pressures of Covid-19. But we’re now happy to welcome the work back.

How does everything fit together? Just like this.

As a recap, we believe understanding a resident’s level of vulnerability at any contact will:

  • stop things escalating
  • understand what level of intervention is suitable
  • free up time to work with those most in need

Over this next sprint, we’ll be starting to take what we learnt before and designing the next version of our Understanding Vulnerability tool. We’re looking forward to continuing this work and sharing it with you all.

Information and Evidence & Single View

As mentioned last time, we’ve now completed the work on the Single View and Information and Evidence tools. The latter is complemented with updated waiting times for residents who are considering joining the register.

These two things together can support the Council to deliver consistent and accurate information to residents about their chances of getting a property through the housing register. They can use this information to set expectations, encourage residents to consider other options and self-sourced their own properties.

Congratulations to the team for making this happen.

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