A new report from Accenture found that many citizens have acquired significant new caregiving responsibilities at home during the pandemic, yet most are unaware of
what social services are available to them.
The report, ‘Social Services: Lead with Impact’, found that while more than half (55%) of U.K. citizens surveyed said that the response of their social service agencies to the COVID-19 pandemic has been strong, the majority (92%) said they lack sufficient guidance on what social services they are eligible to access. This posed a challenge for the more than half (57%) of respondents who have had significant new caregiving responsibilities at home during the crisis.
The report is based on two surveys: one of more than 7,000 citizens across 10 countries in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, and another of 600 executives holding leadership positions within social services, employment, public pension and child welfare agencies in those same countries. The research sought citizens’ views on the assistance they received from social services agencies during the pandemic and the views of leaders on their agency’s response to the crisis. Just over 1,000 of the citizens surveyed reside in the U.K. and 70 of the executives interviewed hold leadership positions within UK welfare and social service agencies.
The report identifies key strategies to enable agencies to manage the disruption caused by the pandemic and to transform how social services are delivered in the future. Strategies include the
creation of new organizational and workforce processes, the deployment of new technologies and increased agency collaboration with citizens, community groups and ecosystem partners in the design and delivery of new and more personalized services.
Over one-third (37%) of U.K. respondents said the services they accessed during the pandemic were tailored to meet their individual needs and more than one-quarter (28%) said they would like more personalisation and tailoring of services to better reflect their individual needs and circumstances.
Similarly, one-third (33%) said they would welcome more proactive information from their social services and welfare agencies about job opportunities and services available to them. Almost twofifths (39%) said they would be willing to collaborate with their welfare and social services provider to help co-create new and enhanced services.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for government assistance was rising steadily in many countries, spurred by trends such as ageing populations. But the pandemic—and the measures to contain it—intensified the strains on the elderly and other vulnerable groups, especially the unemployed and those furloughed from work. Never has there been such an urgent need for more modern, effective and personalized social services,” said Jo Knibbs, a managing director in Accenture’s public service practice in the U.K. “Meeting current and future citizen service demands will require welfare agencies to rapidly adopt new delivery models while embracing digital technologies and new ways of working.”