Discovery to help understand how we can modernise online council accounts

Full Application: Not funded at this stage

The problem of low account take-up exists in many authorities; particularly with low take-up across high volume transactional services such as Benefits; Council Tax; Rent etc.

Some of the perceived problems, we will look to understand, include;


  • Poorly designed websites; mobile first principles not observed across the whole site; lack of consistency in design
  • Lack of internal processes and staff training to influence current beliefs and behaviours amongst customers; particularly around security and trust
  • Lack of assisted digital capability
  • Lack of perceived benefits/advantages in signing up; lack of useful features and ongoing support that lend themselves to registration
  • Multiple Portals requiring different logins and often different registration processes

“Although many authorities do have citizen panels and hold regular forums, the subject of IdA and/or related procedures has not yet been raised as a topic of discussion. However some feedback has been received which illustrates concerns about data privacy and loss and the apparent inability of councils to share across departments.

Some level of irritation has been reported around the need to register and log in to undertake simple transactions but this has been addressed in at least one case by changing the registration from being mandatory to optional.”



Previous research (highlighted above) suggested irritation around having to complete a registration for simple transactions; and inability to share across council departments. There is little to suggest that either of these have been full addresses; particularly data sharing across internal departments but also external government departments; DWP; NHS etc.


The ONS have also published statistics for people who have not submitted an online form in the last 12 months – the reasons given will apply to adoption of online accounts also.


Dependencies include third party providers of transactional online services and portals; online verification providers; local government and associated government agencies (such as NHS.)

We will look to undertake research across a number of citizens across a number of authorities; to measure satisfaction rates of current registration and typical account architecture; also consider analogue users and what barriers (if any!) exist, and survey for considerations such key features of a modern online account etc.


Digital marketplace will be used to seek cloud software which can be implemented across the partner council websites (and likely CRM systems) to perform the research.


Online surveys; F2F interviews and telephony calls will all be used to ensure a cross-section of citizens and different channel experience.


Factors selected will be confirmed if bid successful but include items such as;

  • Site design
  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Empathy
  • Trust

The following reference is seen as a good example of how to approach our discovery project; although confined to online social care a number of principles (particularly with regards methodologies) are alike and can be reused


There is some potential overlap with our “Discovery into understanding citizen requirements to implement a Digital Privacy Policy” submission” – it maybe merging the two bids is of consideration.

The cost of the problem is linked in part to any authority digital transformational programme. Although citizens can generate requests anonymously; often an account helps takes away the need for chaser calls; offers 24/7 availability for progress updates and allows easier verification of the citizen which greatly reduces back office time. With the advent of AI, particularly in healthcare, again the account can potentially offer a more personalised experience and allow more opportunity to automate end to end.


Therefore the costs of increasing the number of account holders and increasing number of registrations and satisfaction could potentially save millions across all local authorities.

We will look to use existing cross council tools for collaboration where possible; this will be determined if successful but likely to be one of;

    • Microsoft Teams;
      • In its infancy within a number of authorities already


    • SharePoint collaboration/partnership;
      • Cheshire East have capability to provide access to our partnership sites for all colleagues


  • Glasscubes workgroup edition;
    • Used successfully for the Blue Badge/DfT project and most authorities already familiar with
    • Low cost alternative, available on digital marketplace; trusted within local government


The current project methodology within Cheshire East is one of developing solutions via collaborative and agile techniques. As part of this project methodology the following key objectives would form an integral part of successful a delivery.


  • Technical collaboration working collectively to ensure best use and re-use of existing any evolving technical solutions.
  • Business collaboration working constructively with the business to ensure maximum transformational results are achieved
  • Benefits realisation ensuring effective prioritisation and use of various techniques i.e. Agile etc. ensuring that transformational solutions are developed which clearly identify and maximises objectives in customer experience and tangible benefit realisation.
  • Effective Communication  internal and external communications channels.We would aim to utilise these key core objectives in effectively  and collaboratively working with the other partner councils as part of this delivery ensuring a successful  outcome and unified way of working together.
  • Additional to and in supporting the delivery functions an effective communication strategy will be a critical success factor for project. The communications will underpin the working relationship/set up and provide an effective, robust  inclusive communications structure which will allow for consistent communications that can be cascaded both within the individual councils and between each of the participating partner councils.

We will utilise the digital marketplace to submit our requirement to allow us to potentially purchase survey software;