Social Security Charter measurement framework: co-design process

The process we undertook to co-develop a measurement framework that will show how well we are preforming against the Social Security Charter.

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4. What were the Co-design process findings?


During the co-design process, researchers collected information from all participants, analysed it, and used it to develop both what is included in the framework, and how the framework is presented. Some key examples of the findings are described here, to illustrate.

Measuring all the commitments

All partners agreed that the Charter Measurement Framework should be both comprehensive and accessible; in other words, it should measure most or all of the commitments in the Charter. They also agreed that the framework needed to be simple, straightforward and accessible.

Our Charter consists of over 50 separate commitments some of which are made up of several vital elements that participants wished to measure. Rather than develop a framework containing over 100 measures, we explored different ways to simplify the framework.

In the first instance, we asked Core Group 2 to pick out the most important commitments to them. These findings would have shortened the framework but, when fed back to Core Group 2, stakeholders and SCoSS, all agreed that it needed to be more comprehensive.

All participants, but in particular SCoSS and Core Group 2, pointed out that there were certain themes running through the Charter and that some commitments were similar to each other. Some commitments were also seen as incorporating others. As such, we looked for overlap between commitments and pulled similar aspects of the commitments together. This helped us to reduce the total number of measures needed, whilst including elements of the majority of the commitments. This was a fairly complicated process; a couple of practical examples should help to show how this was done.

In some cases, two commitments were very closely related and could be measured in the same way. For example; “deliver face to face services in local communities in places that are convenient and accessible. This includes home visits if appropriate” (Process that work; 5) and “base services in places that are accessible and welcoming for everyone” (A learning system, 11). These commitments are both about places being accessible and convenient, and so we came up with two simple measures; an ‘objective’ measure which uses an ‘accessibility checklist’[7] to rate venues, and one based on clients perceptions of convenience of social security places and services.

Other aspects of these two commitments will be covered elsewhere in the framework. For instance, we will measure whether clients feel staff adapted to their needs where they face barriers to accessing services, which includes being able to have a home visit.

A different example shows how aspects of some commitments are present in others. Commitment 5 of ‘A learning system’ - “ensure staff understand the needs of different people and the barriers they face so that no one experiences discrimination because of who they are” - contains aspects relating to (at least) three other commitments (see Figure 2). By breaking up this commitment and connecting it to to others, we manage to avoid repetition by not measuring the same aspect twice.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Decisions about which aspects aligned with each other were tested with Core Group 2 in the first instance, then we devised measures for each. Core Group 2, stakeholders and SCoSS were asked to identify any commitments they thought were not being measured in this way, and, further, if they thought any measures should be expressed differently.

Using the right words

Our next step was to ensure we were using accessible and relevant language. Core Group 2 made key decisions about the words and phrasing used in the framework after considering alternatives. For example, members reflected on the difference between ‘clients know how to challenge decisions’ and ‘clients feel able to challenge decisions’. They argued for the latter, reasoning that ‘feeling able’ not only involves ‘knowing how’, but also includes confidence that to challenge a decision will not lead to sanctions or discrimination. As one group member said: “People can know how to appeal but they don’t do it because they are scared they might lose their benefits all together.”

At the second stakeholder meeting, attendees said it was important that words used in the framework reflected the social model of disability[8], which recognises that disability is imposed by societal conditions. The wording of some of the measures was altered to refer to ‘societal barriers’ rather than to ‘clients with barriers’. However, several members of Core Group 2 were unsure about whether the term ‘societal barriers’ would be widely understood, commenting that it sounded ‘a bit jargon-y’. Therefore the wording was again changed to say that clients ‘faced’ barriers rather than ‘having’ barriers, with the word ‘societal’ removed to make for simpler reading.

Summary page

As the framework developed and all participants had their say, the framework expanded. In the final draft we had over 70 measures. The analysis told us that we could not reduce the number of measures any further whilst ensuring the whole system as set out in the Charter was measured. To address this issue, two decisions were taken.

Firstly, Core Group 2 decided that the framework should provide a one-page overview, or summary, of the key information from the framework. The group had the following ideas about summary pages:

  • to have few words and to set out information in pictorial or graphical form if possible, as one member said “it shouldn’t be too wordy”
  • that it should try to summarise the measures
  • that it should be split into recognisable sections that matched the Charter and the rest of the framework

The content of the summary page will be developed when data has been collected over the year following this report. That data will be analysed to identify the best way to present it in a visual format.



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