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Local presence: integration of One Stop Shops and Idea Stores

This consultation has ended


Our current service

Our Idea Stores offer library, adult learning and information services, career support, training, meeting areas, cafés, arts and leisure activities. There are currently five Idea Stores (in Bow, Canary Wharf, Chrisp Street, Watney Market and Whitechapel). You told us that you want to be able to access services in town centres or close to main public transport links. You also told us that you like to access services in a relaxed atmosphere and well-designed space, which offers high levels of customer service. Customer satisfaction with Idea Stores is very high with 92 per cent of users rating the service highly.

One Stop Shops offer face-to-face information and help to residents, supporting them to access a wide variety of council services. The majority of visits to One Stop Shops are related to benefits, council tax, parking and social services. There are currently four One Stop Shops (in Bow, Chrisp Street, Watney Market and Bethnal Green).  69 per cent of One Stop Shop customers rate the service highly.

What we are proposing to change

Residents told us that contacting the council can sometimes be difficult and frustrating. We want to improve our customer service across the council. We also want to improve the different ways that residents can use to contact the council (via the internet, telephone and face to face).

This proposal ensures that customers can continue to contact the council in different ways. It ensures we will still have facilities for residents to speak to council staff in person and it could achieve significant savings of £2,350,000. We can achieve this saving by enabling more of our customers to use our online facilities instead of visiting us or calling. At the same time, we can continue to provide face to face and phone support for customers who may be unable to use online services. 

We plan to:

  • create a better website where residents can pay their bills, request services (including parking permits and benefits applications), report something to the council and find out about council services more easily and get their issue resolved;
  • improve customers’ experience of contacting the council by phone;
  • build on the success of our Idea Stores by merging services currently provided in the One Stops shops and Idea Stores, so face to face services are available to residents who need them in their local area;
  • improve the quality of contact between residents and the council by focusing investment on services with the greatest demand and those which are most important to residents.

More detail about this savings proposal can be found in this cabinet report. Our approach is based on better use of technology and self-service options whilst providing a face to face support for residents who may need it in a greater number of places than is currently available in One Stop Shops.

What services will look like if these changes go ahead

We will bring together our Idea Store and One Stop Shop services to provide a single customer experience within existing Idea Store locations. Whilst current Idea Store services will remain broadly the same, there will be some changes to how One Stop Shop activities are delivered.

As more and more transactions and services are moved online, we recognise there is still a need for the council to have a face to face 'local presence’ for those customers who may need assistance or for services that cannot be completed online. The emphasis in Idea Stores will be on staff being there to support customers to help themselves rather than the current ticketed, waiting system associated with the One Stop Shops. Most importantly, it will be about resolving the customer’s issue or query.

The proposal is to close our four One Stop Shops and move the services currently offered from them into our five Idea Stores and online. Three of the One Stop Shops (in Bow, Chrisp Street and Watney Market) are either already located within an Idea Store building or within the immediate vicinity. The nearest Idea Store to the Bethnal Green One Stop Shop will be in Whitechapel. There is currently no One Stop Shop on the Isle of Dogs and providing a customer service point at Idea Store Canary Wharf will improve access in this part of the borough.

Local presence staff will help people complete simple transactions online where possible; provide simple advice, information and sign-posting about council and other local services. Staff will also redirect more complex enquiries to the right services via appointments.

When people enter local presence sites, they will be able to:

  • access, via a re-designed council website, a comprehensive directory of services with links to online applications, enrolment and booking forms;
  • complete the majority of their enquiries or activity  online with assistance from staff if needed;
  • be pointed in the right direction by staff if they need further assistance or referred to more complex services or assessments;
  • book appointments to access services which require a more detailed face to face interaction and/or privacy;
  • access activities that bring together residents from different backgrounds and communities;
  • access library, employment, learning and information services and a range of other printed and online information about public services.