UK version of

FROM: Sarah Walstead

What NEED does this meet?
Retired people are younger than ever - 62 for men and 59 for women, according to the BBC - but as the population of the UK and the EU ages, it's important to get retired people, and their skills, back into the workforce. In addition, the average 60-year-old these days isn't usually ready to potter around the house knitting booties for grandchildren: they're active, vital, and ready to learn new things.

Meanwhile, businesses - small and large - have a need for temporary or part-time employees, and would love to hire the experience and skills of retired people instead off having to take sullen 19-year-olds from temp agencies - but they don't know where to find them. In addition, if an employer only needs someone for 3 days next week to stuff envelopes, it's not cost-effective to post a job on Monster (£250 per job) - but it is on Retired Worker (£25 or less per job).

So we launched Retired Worker ( it's an employment website, sort of like or, except it's been designed especially for retired people who want to work on a temporary or part-time basis - and we made it friendly for these users, who often aren't - yet - expert web surfers.

What is the APPROACH?
Our approach is distinctive simply because nothing like this currently exists, as far as we know.

In terms of our specific approach for this demographic, we've designed Retired Worker with a typical 60+ person in mind, and addressed some of their specific issues. For example, retired people often haven't created a resume in 20 years, and they are apprehensive of doing so. They are also sometimes unfamiiar with 'attaching' documents to emails, as they would have to do to send a resume to a job site. Retired Worker, on the other hand, is a point-and-click system, that allows users to create profiles (selecting various skills, and skill levels) without having to write a resume or attach files.

Employers create their job postings in the same manner, identifying skills and skill levels they need.

The system matches Employees to Employers automatically; Employers get an email telling them who in the Retired Worker database matches their requirements, and then Employers contact Employees directly (using a secure method) to arrange inteviews, work, etc.

The best part is that the cost is much lower than regular job sites!

What are the BENEFITS to people?
For retired people who want to work, the benefits are clear: they don't have to submit a resume or have the sophisticated search skills they need to find an appropriate job on typical employment websites; they don't have to check the site every day because the system will automatically match them to jobs which require their specific skills; and they can participate in a community with other retired people like them. Most importantly, the response we've had from Retired Worker users so far is that they feel 'welcomed' by the site - it's not cluttered, it doesn't require sophisticated computer skills, and we've included details like the ability to large-size text if required.

For businesses, the benefits include more cost-efficient job postings; avoiding email inboxes filled with resumes from people who aren't qualified for the position (our matching system prevents this); quick turnaround (employers know who matches their requirements within 24 hours); and most importantly, access to a wealth of skills and experience they haven't been able to tap into before.

What is the COMPETITION?
We don't think there are any other services like ours out there, especially in the UK.

We think our idea should win because it meets all of's mandates:

1. It is founded on electronic networks (the internet).

2. It has real-world impact beyond using computers. There is increased social capital, bridging between groups, and reduced social exclusion, because we are facilitating the integration of older workers back into the workforce, where they can use and teach their skills and experience with/to younger workers. The government and the EU have predicted a crisis in the workforce in the next 25 years, as the population ages and the younger workforce shrinks - Retired Worker is a way to alleviate this.

3. This has VERY low cost scalability. The database and system is already built and running in Canada. It only has to be adapted to the UK marketplace, and is not restricted to a specific neighbourhood - heck, we could cover the whole EU for only an increased hosting cost.

4. Development community: We think that this project would attract development communities, but more importantly, it would foster a community of its own. We'd like to see Retired Worker have discussion boards, education tools, etc. that would help retired people get back to work and keep working as long as they want to.

5. Retired Worker is very low maintenance. Yes, there are initial requirements such as PR efforts to attract attention to it, but in Canada we've had absolutely no trouble doing this on a 'we did it in our basement' kind of way - we call newspapers and television stations and they have been more than happy to run stories about Retired Worker. The challenges of an aging population are foremost in many people's minds.

6. Things people already do, done better: Well, people have already done employment websites, so I guess you could say we're just doing it better for this demographic.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
It's not difficult to build the idea, since it's already been done.

Logistics, however, is where we would need some help. We'd need to find someone, preferably from within the demographic, to be the 'face' of Retired Worker UK, and there is a certain amount of effort required in terms of making calls, emails, etc. to businesses and the media to get sponsorship and PR for the site, but this has not been difficult in Canada, and judging from the amount of British media coverage of the challenges of an aging population both in the UK and in the EU, we don't think it would be difficult to get Employees, Employers, and advertisers on board. Depending on the revenue model desired, government might also want to be involved.

Cost for this: We think it can be done on a shoestring (as we've done it in Canada), especially if we have the support of an organization like MySociety. Ideally we'd have an office and server in the UK, which could be as little as £500/month, plus a salary for the 'face' of Retired Worker, and possibly some part-time or temporary staffers who could help attract initial attention/PR. So it could probably be successfully launched for £10,000 over 3-6 months - though of course a little more wouldn't hurt, mostly for marketing!

November 13, 2003 in Connecting People, Matching System, Money, OAPs | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Local Budget Transparency

FROM: Leigh Hall

What NEED does this meet?
No one likes tax, but if people could see clearly how their tax money was being spent then they could at least accept it. I am not talking "In: £xxx, Out: £xxx, jobs a good 'un", I'm talking a comprehensive, detailed and transparent breakdown of ALL local income and outgoings. A breakdown of central funding received, a breakdown of council tax income, by area and by band and a detailed list of where it is being spent. At each level the cost should be justified, and this could even provide opportunity to make local project documentation available, and possibly (long shot) could open up public projects to having contracts tendered to lowest bidders.

What is the APPROACH?
This information must be available already, so it would be a case of seeking approval for publication, and then the transferral of the ledgers into a database. Then a user friendly interface could be constructed, the results can be added to a website.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
As I said before, no one likes tax, but if they could see how their money was being spent, and could see that it was being spent wisely, they would be able to live with it.

Additionally, providing an electronic framework for this data might eliminate the need for the existing paperwork that is undoubtedly undertaken.

What is the COMPETITION?
I am sure that at some level there will be a vested interest in preventing this from happening, but unless a valid argument can be presented, I do not see why this could not happen.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The ledgers must already exist, so there would be no extra resource needed to get this information. For the duration of the project, a skilled database programmer would need to work with the ledgers to transfer them into an electronic format. From here, the data could be made directly available. Once the project is live, it would need to be updated throughout the year, but this cost could be saved from possibly moving the ledger into an electronic format, and removing the manual work.

November 3, 2003 in Money, Perhaps Government Remit?, Political | Permalink | Comments (4)

FROM: George Eldon What NEED

FROM: George Eldon

What NEED does this meet?
Bringing a measure of political empowerement to the man on the Clapham omnibus...

The idea germinated when I considered that many people don't bother to vote, never mind take an interest in politics generally and on the other hand many web sites allow you to compare gas, electricity suppliers and save ten bob a year by switching. Others allow you to compare current accounts, ISA's and other financial products etc which is good news as far as I'm concerned.

However we have close to no say in how the other 30-40% of our income - aka tax - is spent (or raised for that matter).

What is the APPROACH?
Every year the Government of the day produces a budget. Various web sites (BBC et al) produce a 'Be your own Chancellor' "game" that allows you to alter around twenty or so tax / spend variables. The web site then calculates the income / tax impact on various groups (e.g. two working parents with two children, single parent).

My approach is to development this idea further by...

1) Providing the game all year round. 2) Allowing people to save their 'games' 3) Allowing people to drill down to the 'nth' level of detail if they want to (i.e. the number and levels of variables should reflect the real world or at least the variables that economic institutions and the Government actually use in their models). 4) Importing actual economic data and calculating how the results of your game are affected.

What are the BENEFITS to people?
If sufficient interest develops then it could conceivably have a snowball effect and become - to coin a phrase - 'the ultimate poll' that political parties start to consider.

What is the COMPETITION?
This isn't something that I suggest take on by themselves. There are sufficient academic / economic institutes out there that could provide understanding of economic modelling and resources. No doubt some of these institutes already have similar projects on the go, but I don't think anything big is on the web - if you know otherwise, pease let me know.

What BUDGET & LOGISTICS are required?
The budget would be quite hefty I'm afraid, both in the development and operational phases. Also sufficient funds to pay subscriptions for the actual economic data.

The logistics would require a hefty development team and an even heftier economic modelling team from economic / academic institutes.

November 2, 2003 in Money, Political | Permalink | Comments (1)