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Better design 'can transform services'

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Design thinking should be introduced across the public sector in order to make services more responsive to users’ needs, a new report has advised.

Inspirational case studies from Cornwall Council, Staffordshire CC and Transport for London are amongst some of the practical suggestions included in the report from the Design Council, Capita and the Arts & Humanities Council.

In Cornwall Council, the appointment of a ‘chief design officer’ led to large scale public engagement projects which look set to be adopted nationally, the report said.

TfL’s redesign of bus stop maps as tube-like “spider maps” was also referenced, as is the creation of an application by Futuregov allowing Staffordshire CC social workers to check if other organisations where working with a child.

Recommendations include calls for public bodies, such as councils, to create “design studio” methods for policy formulation and the opening up of career paths for social and service design professionals.

Lewisham LBC chief executive Barry Quirk, who co-chaired the report, said: “We cannot improve public services by attempting to optimise that which needs to be transformed. We currently have far too many 19th century facilities housing 20th century services that struggle to meet 21st century preferences and needs.

“Design and design thinking offer a fresh approach to re-thinking policy, professional practice and service delivery. Design and redesign must be central to how we can transform our way of thinking about the future of public services.”

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