Modernizing UK Public Services While Enabling Future Transformation
Enhancing efficiency and user experience at DWP
- Digital Platforms
- Transformation Consulting
Get to Know DWP
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy. As the UK’s biggest public service department, it administers the State Pension and a range of working age, disability and ill health benefits to around 20 million claimants and customers.
Despite being such an important resource to so many people, one of its key drawbacks was delivering an overly complex user experience that was underpinned by expensive legacy systems. DWP knew it needed to modernise to keep pace with technological trends and user expectations.
A Need for Efficiency
Tapping into a partnership that spans two decades, DWP tasked Valtech with modernising its New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (NSJSA) claim submission service. As an end-to-end service, it supports more than 400,000 job seekers every year through online applications, face-to-face interviews in job centres, and decision-making by DWP.
NSJSA is a monetary benefit that UK citizens can claim if they are unemployed or work less than 16 hours a week, giving them access to vital financial support. This makes it a key component of DWP’s work. Our mission was to make the service more efficient so that more time could be spent helping citizens get back to work.
The existing service was being hampered by several pain points impacting efficiency and the user experience. These included unclear signposting that confused users and 50% of claims being processed clerically. It required significant manual effort by agents, with several clerical touchpoints and handoffs between agents and digital systems, resulting in the risk of errors and delays. As a result, the service had high fixed costs, a 24% dropout rate, and 10,000 appointments were being canceled and rebooked every month.
With these issues in mind, we set out to develop a more efficient service that would increase completion rates while reducing claim processing time, the number of rebooked appointments, and the cost per transaction.
Driving Service Improvements
Taking an agile approach, we rebuilt the NSJSA service in line with Government Digital Service (GDS) standards and guidance. We created multiple prototypes and blueprints to support iterative user engagement that informs the development and meets all DWP’s needs. We responded to end-user and DWP stakeholder feedback to conduct service improvements. This included continuously refining the wording and reducing mandatory and intrusive questions. Additionally, we significantly decreased the number of questions in our application forms.
The new service was rolled out incrementally, with 100% of claims using it from March 2020. We delivered a comprehensive handover to DWP - consisting of monitoring enhancements, security assurance, and performance testing. This allowed operational efficiencies in managing NSJSA claims to be realised.
During the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the service saw as many as 15,000 new claims per day (a 2000% increase). This showcased the system’s resilience and flexibility, as well as its ability to stand up to the changed requirements of virtual interviews. Most importantly, it helped to ensure that eligible citizens got access to the right financial support when they needed it most.
We contributed code to the government toolkit for more extensive reuse after the new streamlined service was praised by the GDS Assessments Panel: “The ‘apply for’ system coped admirably amid unprecedented demand due to Covid-19. Much of what the team presented provided examples from which other service teams could learn. We consider this to have been an exemplary Alpha assessment.”
In conclusion, the incremental rollout of the new service proved to be a pivotal step in efficiently managing NSJSA claims. By ensuring that eligible citizens had timely access to the required financial assistance, this streamlined service stood as an exemplary model for other teams to learn from and emulate.