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Transforming budgeting services

Budgeting services was often seen as a last resort when people were in crisis. The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) wanted to change that, by empowering people through building their financial capability.

What we did was to find out why it was a last resort, and what it would take to move people facing hardship from finance dependence to independence. We did this by engaging over 300 people who use or give budgeting advice, and other financial experts. Leading a core design team from MSD we spent six months undertaking empathy research, prototyping concepts and building a powerful case for transformational change.

From over 100 ideas people generated, the team identified, prototyped and tested the most powerful ideas that could transform the budgeting landscape. Some brilliant concepts came out of this, including redefining budget advisers as ‘financial mentors’ who help a client navigate the financial and support system, strength-based financial plans that reduce the need for crisis management, and a ‘collective account’ that acknowledges financial contributions to whānau, community and church.

MSD recently launched the financial mentor service and strengths-based financial plan, and the Associate Minister of Social Development acknowledged the value of co-design and giving people in financial hardship a voice.

ThinkPlace’s co-design methodology was central to the outcome. Our processes and approaches are tested, we know they work, and we can deploy them quickly. In this case, our co-design approach ensured the authentic, timely and effective engagement of a wide range and number of clients, budgeters, stakeholders, Pasifika and Māori communities – safely and on their terms.

Had we not been able to do this, the voices and needs of people using the existing services would not have been heard. It was in these voices that we found the opportunities for service innovation and increasing financial literacy and resilience. It was also because of the level of engagement of all the voices in the system that the team were able develop a new financial capability eco-system.

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Ministry of Social Development
Project Team
Mondy Jera's profile'

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