The new online Carer’s Allowance application system has launched today, in a move that is already transforming the lives of thousands of carers across the country.
Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for people who are looking after someone with substantial caring needs. 240,000 people in the UK claim the allowance each year, and until now, they were forced to do this via the post or by using an outdated online system which was difficult to complete and had low take-up.
In partnership with the Cabinet Office’s Government Digital Service, the Department for Work and Pensions has launched a new digital service simplifying the process for busy carers. It has been built around the needs of the users and means that people who are caring full-time are able to apply for their benefit at a time and in a way that suits them. One of the many improvements for applicants is a new way of verifying that the person they care for understands the claim – removing the need for them to sign a paper declaration.
The new service has been tested and improved with real users over many months. Early trials have indicated that the majority of people claiming the allowance are now using the simpler, clearer, and faster online process (54%) instead of asking for a form to be posted to them. In fact, more than 125,000 digital claims have been submitted since trials began in October 2013, with a user satisfaction rate of 90%. The service works on any device, meaning maximum convenience for users. In trials more than a third of digital claims were completed using a tablet or mobile phone.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:
As part of this government’s long-term economic plan to drive efficiency savings for taxpayers we are building world-class digital-by-default services that are designed around the needs of users. Our new online Carer’s Allowance application system is easier and faster to complete, freeing up time for people who have caring responsibilities. I congratulate all those involved on today’s launch and we will now press ahead with transforming more public services to ensure hardworking people get the services they deserve.
Minister of State for Disabled People, Mark Harper, said:
Carers provide an invaluable service to people in some of the most vulnerable circumstances in our communities. We spend around £2 billion on Carer’s Allowance and are committing even more in the future. A simpler and quicker online system for claiming the benefit is extremely welcome news for those whose time is overwhelmingly dedicated to looking after others.
For those that are not able to use the online service, an assisted digital option will always be available. This could include, for example, using DWP’s Jobcentre Plus offices as drop-in centres to complete the service with Carer’s Allowance experts who can offer internet access and personal support.
Notes to editors
1) The Government Digital Service is leading the digital transformation of government, making public services digital by default, and simpler, clearer and faster to use. The Government Digital Strategy and departmental digital strategies commit us to the redesigning and rebuilding of 25 significant ‘exemplar’ services. The Carer’s Allowance is one of those exemplars.
2) In February the government brought together 40 public, private and voluntary sector organisations for the first time to sign a new UK Digital Inclusion Charter. The partnership is about making it easier for people to build their digital skills and confidence, with the aim of reducing the number of people offline, so that by 2020 everyone who can be online, will be.