Customer story: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK

Call For Evidence Process
'screenshot of 'Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK
'screenshot of 'Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK

Seeking information and expertise

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is a UK government department with around 5,000 staff around the UK plus 15,000 more in the organisations it oversees, such as the Met Office. BEIS’s aim is to build a stronger, greener future by fighting coronavirus, tackling climate change, unleashing innovation and making the UK a great place to work and do business.

In the past 10 years or so BEIS has published over 50 calls for evidence and 180 consultations on Citizen Space. A call for evidence differs from a consultation in that it is far more open: it’s more of a discovery exercise carried out to inform the direction and shape of a policy. A call for evidence seeks information and expertise from people, organisations and stakeholders with direct experience or knowledge of a particular issue. Consultations tend to be held further down the road.

Issues that really matter

BEIS have been running calls for evidence on Citizen Space for over 10 years. The topics span the whole range of their activities, such as tackling unfair payment practices to support small businesses, developing a UK bioeconomy strategy and creating a fund to support decarbonisation in the UK steel sector. A call in early 2021 sought input on delivering a net zero electricity system with high renewable capacity by 2050.

BEIS noticed a marked improvement in response rates when they began using Citizen Space. When publishing calls for evidence and consultations on the website and Citizen Space simultaneously, they found that the average completion rate was significantly higher when people used Citizen Space: 21% compared with 3%. The stats demonstrate that by putting stuff online, making it visually appealing and promoting it, people will engage. The facility to complete only parts that are relevant to respondents also encourages participation.

Most of BEIS’s calls for evidence affect the whole nation, which means it is essential that they’re run on a robust platform that can handle large amounts of traffic.

Citizen Space supports unlimited response numbers, so customers aren’t charged per number of responses to an exercise. It also supports unlimited site admins, so different departments can log in to the system and create their own democratic activities. When you're an organisation with such a wide-ranging remit as BEIS this is essential for avoiding bottlenecks in the process.

Getting the evidence

A call for evidence asks for as much expert information from as broad a range of participants as possible. It must be easy to use if it is to succeed, and mustn’t exclude stakeholders. This is crucial when BEIS needs input on its moves to tackle issues that affect us all, such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Citizen Space has an uncluttered and accessible interface that is mobile-friendly and free of barriers to participation, such as having to register before a respondent can have their say.

By running calls for evidence on Citizen Space, BEIS are ensuring they get the input they need to form their policies.

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