Redesigning the social inclusion scheme

Insight interviews with beneficiaries of RSA


In 2014 the number of people unemployed in France rose to 3,488,300. That means the number of people looking for a job has risen by 5.8% from 2013-2014 resulting in a significant increase in people claiming Revenu de Solidarité Active (RSA).

RSA is a welfare benefit aimed at reducing the barrier to returning to work. It aims to provide a minimum income for unemployed with the aim of encouraging them to find work. It also provides a subsidy for low-wage workers so that they do not earn less through employment than unemployment.

Although the RSA benefit scheme is largely explained and information is available through various channels (Online and through documents distributed by the Department of Seine Maritime and Social services) the information can often be easily misunderstood by claimants.

For claimants to receive RSA they must participate in an inclusion scheme. This involves reporting on a quarterly basis, attend meetings with a social worker, participate in charity work, and work with a number of different employment services. This administrative process can become more complicated if the recipient’s circumstances change such as becoming a parent, getting married, moving or simply going back to work. 

By taking a service design and user focused approach Seine Maritime Council and service design agency Talking Things set out to redesign this process and make easier for everyone involved. 

The Process


User research phase report for Seine Maritime County Council by Talking Things

The project team started the design process by identifying what being a beneficiary and administration of RSA involves. They did this by spending a significant amount of time interviewing beneficiaries of RSA and social workers.

Around 30 individuals participated in the interviews. Through these sessions the team gained a detailed overview of the RSA from both the service users and support workers perspective. It became clear that many claimants didn’t understand the administrative process, that the language used was often not straightforward enough and that many beneficiaries were unaware of additional services that they could access.

The team then used two service design methods, these were: 

  • Personas – The project team created 9 personas of typical service users such as, ‘the low-wage worker’, ’the person in crisis’, ‘the single-parent family’ etc. These personas brought the voice of the service users to the council and design process. 
  • User Journeys – Using the personas the project team then mapped out each of their user journeys of claiming RSA benefits. This approach helped define the different needs, expectations and problems the users had within the current service.

All relevant services for RSA beneficiaries in the Seine Maritime area were mapped. Once they had a detailed list of all these services they created an easily accessible online service called Carto.

Carto aims to make it simpler for RSA claimants to find an access services in their region. The service brings together all the support services in the area and provides a description of the service, contact details and opening times in a clear and easy way. Users can also save support services to a ‘wishlist’ that users can print out or access at a later date. 

The Impact

As a result of this work the RSA contract between Seine Maritime County Council and claimants has been rewritten. The new version uses insights from the research phase ensures it is straightforward and easily understood by service users.

Simplifying this process has resulted in two benefits to both parties.

  1. Reduced administrative errors surrounding the benefits process.
  2. Enabled job seekers to be more involved in the inclusion process.

As a result of this service design approach, the outcomes are now benefiting 45,000 RSA beneficiaries, more than 400 social workers and over 300 administrative staff in the Seine Maritime region. 


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