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Case study 1: Universal Credit
This flagship welfare reform aims to increase the numbers of people working by 250,000 as a result of a combination of transforming work incentives, extending conditionality and the greater simplicity of the system.
Compared to the legacy benefits system, the move to Universal Credit is estimated to generate gross economic benefit of £7 billion every year once it is fully rolled out.
The old regime comprises 6 different benefits, operated by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and 350 local authorities. This complex landscape is confusing to claimants, and in many cases actively works against people trying to do the right thing by working, or working more. The transformation to Universal Credit delivers a single, seamless support for people out of work or in low paid work.
The transformation depends on several actions:
- fundamental policy reform of the support for those out of work or in low paid work - this policy design directly addresses the problem with the legacy policies, introducing a single rate at which financial support is withdrawn as earnings rise
- extensive user research, including behavioural science, to ensure that all elements of the day-to-day service reinforce the overarching goal to encourage work, and more work
- exploitation of data, across government and beyond, to tailor the service and reduce fraud; for example, the introduction of Real Time Earnings and the policy choice to pay UC monthly (not fortnightly) removes the need for claimants to report earnings; links developed with social landlords help us understand how individuals are coping with managing their finances and rent payments independently, informing our policy iteration and future delivery approach
- much stronger local partnerships to support vulnerable claimants, who are probably using other public services at the same time
- fast improvement by testing and learning, and involving policy teams in continuous policy and product evolution. Focus on building for the complex elements first (services for couples and family claims, for example) and scaling the service at the right pace, instead of big bang implementation, using lessons learned to inform incremental rollout of the service
- driving a culture and behaviour change amongst 50,000 people responsible for front-line delivery of services to move away from the legacy services, systems and support, to a new way of supporting and engaging with claimants, including those who are in work and want to interact through different channels
Early evidence shows claimants of Universal Credit on average find work faster than those claiming legacy benefits. This means that for every 100 Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants who find work, 113 Universal Credit claimants will have moved into employment.
DWP will continue its successful rollout of 5 jobcentres per month to June 2017, expanding to 30 in July 2017. Following a break over the summer DWP will scale up to 55 jobcentres per month between October and December 2017. From February 2018 this will increase to 65 per month, finishing with the final 57 jobcentres in September 2018.
The annual savings from reduced spending on welfare, and lower losses from customer error and fraud, reflect simpler rules. However, in addition, DWP has taken the opportunity to transform the way the business operates to deliver those policy rules. The resulting savings will enable DWP to increase the time and effort put into helping people into work.
This business transformation hinges around building the maturity of DWP’s people, processes and technology, expressed as 6 foundations:
- secure self service wherever possible: making use of the online/mobile channel wherever it is appropriate, to enable DWP front-line people to focus on interactions that help people, not just process data
- decision making based on trust and risk: designing the system from the ground up with a modern approach to trust and risk, which minimises opportunities for fraud, and addresses the cyber-security implications of transacting with people online rather than face-to-face, for example, by using GOV.UK Verify to give users a safer and more secure way to prove their identity
- intelligent data use, sharing and management: using real time earnings information and other data sources to automatically calculate a customer’s entitlement to benefit and check their circumstances
- advanced analytics for segmentation: providing tailored services to different claimants, based on their needs and what DWP already knows about them, which are most likely to deliver the best outcomes in the most cost-effective way
- automated processes: automating manual processes wherever it is safe to do so
- customer behaviour change: designing and continuously improving the service, based on how users interact with it, to help people, encourage work, and reduce fraud
During this Parliament, Universal Credit will transform a significant proportion of working age benefits, making it a proving ground for these foundations.
As with all of the most significant transformations now underway across government, the Universal Credit programme is bringing together different disciplines to deliver including agile development, bringing together a range of skills and expertise to deliver an effective and intuitive service rooted in customer needs, and the programme management structures to deliver complex change, such as moving experienced HMRC staff to DWP and integrating new and existing DWP systems.
Case study 2: Digital Tax
Transforming tax and the end of the tax return
By 2020, HMRC will have moved to a fully digital tax system, bringing an end to the annual tax return. Businesses and individual taxpayers will be able to register, file, pay and update their information at any time of the day or night, and at any point in the year, to suit them.
The Personal Tax Account
The Personal Tax Account sits at the heart of our offer for individuals and is already a key channel allowing us to transact with our customers in new and innovative ways. To deliver transformation on this scale we have had to rapidly grow our digital capability. We run the largest digital operation in government and we have built a team of outstanding people who have designed, developed and delivered the Personal Tax Account in-house, at HMRC.
Agile methodology and new ways of working are at the heart of the development of the Personal Tax Account and we have involved our customers at every stage. Insights gained from early research told us that customers are more likely to use a service if it is designed to meet their needs, can be used at times that suit them, and provides reassurance that any transactions have been successfully completed. These requirements are being built into the account as we develop it, and we continue to review the service to make sure that we are getting it right using behavioural and user testing tools to examine the real customer experience and see how they navigate and use the account.
Our award-winning Multi-channel Digital Tax Platform enables us to develop and deliver new services for the Personal Tax Account far quicker than ever before. The service starting in private beta in July 2015 with almost 3,000 people helping us test the system through to the end of November 2015. Since the live launch in December 2015 we now have almost 7 million individuals using their online account for 50 transactional services, including checking their estimated Income Tax, claiming a refund, checking their projected State Pension, managing their tax credits and filing self-assessment returns.
As more people interact online, HMRC’s channel-shift ambition is becoming a reality, including paperless options, two-way secure messaging, electronic forms and robotics, which are helping to reduce paper submissions and progress-chasing phone calls.
The latest Self Assessment (SA) peak in January 2016 was our most digital ever and the Personal Tax Account was fundamental to HMRC achieving this huge digital milestone. Comparing SA16 to SA15 clearly highlights the channel shift taking place:
- nearly half a million more returns were filed online (9.25 million in total); paper returns were down 21%
- telephone contact was down 7%
- phone wait times halved (down to 5.16 minutes)
There were 114,000 webchats held between customers and HMRC advisers during the SA peak in January 2016. Of these, over 77% confirmed they would otherwise have phoned. This alone translates into HMRC needing to answer 88,000 fewer calls.
We have now introduced a new tax re-payment service which allows customers who are due a refund to get their money back direct from HMRC via their Personal Tax Account, without the need for a cheque or a trip to the bank. Tax that they have overpaid will be refunded directly to their bank account within 3 to 5 days. Between August and November 2016, 1.4 million customers used the online service to claim their refund. And our new payment service makes it even easier for those customers who have underpaid to settle their liabilities quickly and efficiently.
From 2017, HMRC will further develop its use of real-time data and the third party information it already receives to make tax code adjustments that will help avoid under- and over-payments through the tax year. This will be of particular benefit to taxpayers with more than one job, or those with low or fluctuating income, many of whom contact HMRC regularly to change how their personal allowances are shared between jobs and pensions to prevent overpayments of tax. In the future, they will be able to see these adjustments clearly through their digital tax account and choose how their personal allowances are allocated. And they will be able to set an overpayment of one tax against the under-payment of another so that it feels like paying a single tax. Meanwhile a greater use of pre-population of information will eradicate bureaucratic form-filling and remove the risk of missed deadlines, unnecessary penalties, debts arising, and errors in the system being carried forward from one year to the next.
By working collaboratively across government departments and integrating services such as Tax-Free Childcare and Child Benefit into the digital account, individuals will have one place to go for all their financial affairs, and additional customer groups can benefit from dealing with HMRC digitally.
However, we recognise that many of the people we serve still need support when using online services. For this reason we have developed a customer support model that adapts our approach according to our customers’ needs and also developed the capability of our front line advisers to give them confidence to promote the benefits of the Personal Tax Account. HMRC works to keep customers in the digital channel and builds on the successful online services already in operation through other mediums such as YouTube videos, webinars and webchats. HMRC also works closely with customer groups (such as Citizens Advice and Age UK), to identify how they can help less able computer users and avoid digital exclusion.
HMRC is putting the customer at the heart of its digital transformation and giving them the tools and information they need to take control of their tax affairs.
Making Tax Digital for Business
HMRC plays a crucial role in the UK. We collect the money that pays for the UK’s public services, and help families and individuals with targeted financial support. We also help the compliant majority get their tax (and tax credits) right and take strong steps to prevent and respond to minority cases in tax evasion, avoidance and fraud.
The Making Tax Digital for Business (MTDfB) programme is part of a wider agenda which will transform tax administration for individuals and businesses, providing customers with the kind of digital services they expect from a modern organisation. It will change how customers interact with HMRC, how HMRC receives information from customers and intermediaries, but also how HMRC, and in time wider government, presents and uses that information. It enables the end of the burden of the annual tax return for millions of customers, delivering on the government’s Budget 2015 commitment.
The MTDfB programme goes wider than just providing new digital interfaces for customers as it will also modernise and streamline HMRC’s IT architecture behind the scenes to enable transformational process simplification. It will reduce the burden on businesses by:
- intelligent use of data: removing the need for customers to complete separate tax returns and/or provide HMRC information that it already holds and exploring (with appropriate safeguards) the use of information from multiple sources to calculate tax liabilities or entitlements so customers do not have to provide it separately
- real time: bringing the provision of tax information closer to the point of transaction, with businesses updating HMRC directly from their digital records on a quarterly basis (or more regularly if they prefer)
- single financial account: giving all customers a complete view of their tax liabilities and entitlements, with overpayments offset against liabilities
- digital account: providing every business (and their agent where they have one) with access to a digital tax account showing an up to date picture of their likely tax bill based on the information they have provided so far, with the option to make voluntary payments as they go to spread the cost of their tax
By 2020/21 MTDfB will deliver the Business Tax Account (BTA). Every business customer already has access to their own digital account which is the route to the full range of services they need to register for, manage and pay their taxes. Some 3.2 million businesses have already used their account. By bringing together services in one place, the BTA enables businesses to see an overview of their current position and the actions they need to take for their main business taxes. The programme will continue to enhance and improve the BTA and the digital support services that sit around it.
By 2020 business customers will be keeping their records digitally, using commercial software, and updating HMRC with summary data quarterly. They will be able to see their tax affairs in near real-time, in one place, with any overpayments offset against liabilities. By collecting information from businesses more regularly, playing this back to customers and showing them what this means in terms of estimated tax due, they can plan their cash flow and budget more effectively. This will apply to unincorporated businesses from April 2018, to VAT from April 2019 and companies from April 2020. This will be underpinned by legislative change.
HMRC are also building application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable software providers to develop products to allow businesses (and their agents) to keep digital records and provide updates to HMRC. This represents a move away from web services, and is a key part of the HMRC’s wider API strategy.
Case study 3: Digital change in the courts and tribunals service
The government has allocated close to £1 billion to help modernise courts and tribunals and create a system that is just, accessible and proportionate - and that better meets the needs of the people who use it.
Over the past 20 years the courts and tribunals system has undergone significant change. Hundreds of separate organisations have come together to form HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) - each bringing its own buildings, processes, working practices and IT systems.
One of the driving forces behind our modernisation programme is to look across the system and make it work better as a coherent whole - with common working practices, simpler processes, a shared digital infrastructure and fewer, better court buildings and tribunal hearing venues.
Today, most cases that enter the courts and tribunals are still managed on paper. Our staff enter data manually from paper forms or even from forms that have been submitted online because we do not have the technology to progress cases electronically. We waste time and money printing and handling evidence - much of which is created digitally (for example, text messages, tweets, pictures and mobile phone videos).
Reform of the courts and tribunals is based on 2 ideas to help create a just, proportionate and accessible justice system:
- making courts and tribunals more customer-driven so they are consistent, predictable and easy to understand
- investing in better systems and processes, designed around the people who use them, and taking advantage of modern technology
A great deal of this will be made possible by digital change. In the future, things like non-payment of TV licences, fare evasion on public transport or minor speeding offences will be dealt with quickly and efficiently using digital services. This will allow magistrates and courts to focus their resources and attentions where they are most needed.
In the criminal courts, new digital services will help cases progress through the system smoothly and without unnecessary delays. The guiding principle is to use technology where possible to improve the speed and efficiency of the courts.
We have already equipped the majority of our criminal courts to work digitally, removing a vast amount of paper and wasted time. The Digital Case System in the Crown Courts holds almost 17 million pages of information. If we printed them and piled them up, it would reach as high as the Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world. Most of our criminal courts also now have wifi for legal professionals - and 40,000 court users are registered to use it.
We are following the same principles to bring efficiency and simplicity to civil, family and tribunals. If our starting point is that appearing in court may not be the right answer for everyone, we are going to do far more to encourage parties to resolve disputes themselves. We will do this by introducing better signposting to mediation and alternative methods of dispute resolution.
These developments will help to guide and inform changes in other areas of HMCTS’s work. We will move away from adversarial hearings in favour of mediation and online dispute resolution and we are introducing online services to apply for a grant of probate, or for a divorce. Similarly, we are planning to introduce a new ‘online court’ for lower value money claims to offer a simpler, more affordable way for individuals and businesses to resolve disputes.
We are determined that online services will increase access to justice, not diminish it. To this end, specialists in assisted digital are involved in every aspect of our modernisation programme. No new service will be launched without the right support in place, and we are paying particular attention to the digitally excluded to ensure the courts and tribunals are open to everyone.
This programme is the most ambitious of its kind anywhere in the world. We are transforming the way the courts and tribunals operate so they can better accommodate the way people live their lives and run their businesses. This will ultimately help to make the service more consistent, predictable and easy to understand for those who use our courts and tribunals. The digital change involved is complex, but we have got off to a strong start and we are confident that by 2022, we will have delivered the government and the judiciary’s shared vision of a modern, world-class system.
Case study 4: HM Passport Office
HM Passport Office (HMPO) serves over 8 million customers annually as the sole provider of UK passports to British citizens living anywhere in the world and as custodian of the registration of key life events (births, deaths, marriages and adoptions) in England and Wales through the General Register Office (GRO).
Around 85% of eligible UK residents currently hold a valid passport, facilitating over 60 million overseas journeys annually and enabling British citizens to prove their identity for the many purposes, including opening bank accounts and obtaining credit.
HMPO transformation is about taking what is currently a highly linear, manual, one size fits all process involving the handling of large volumes of paper and turning it into a modern, digital process. Customers will have the ability to apply online, including uploading their own digital photographs, without any requirement to send in paper copies of birth or marriage certificates, reducing the likelihood of errors in applications. We aspire to over 90% of our applications being fully digital by 2020.
Our paper-based case working system will become completely digital, moving work to wherever there are people able to undertake it. Checks will be automated where possible and will be supplemented by extensive use of data analytics; HMPO will have the facility to issue some passports without human intervention. Automation will mean that fewer applications will need to be looked at by examiners and the nature of the examination process will be different. Examiner effort will become more targeted, which will result in improved fraud detection and public protection performance, while making the role of the examiner more interesting.
Current communication systems are also mainly paper-based, with several hundred letter templates being the default method of communication. The new online approach will communicate digitally by default, allowing customers to be kept informed and reassured throughout their engagement with HMPO.
HMPO will also share technology with the Home Office to reduce IT costs, including migrating to a shared desktop and network infrastructure. At the core of our transformation is a fundamental shift away from large system integrators delivering aggregated long-term system development and maintenance, towards the use of smaller service providers and with Home Office acting as the service integrators. This approach allows the re-use of existing services, such as facial matching and data verification, and makes it considerably cheaper and easier to add new services or substitute in updated services in the future.
The transformation has a significant technology design, build, integration and service optimisation element, but also a substantial business change element which will include process redesign, job redesign and estates and staff rationalisation.
Collectively this transformation will save the taxpayer over £80 million per year.
There are 8 key elements to HMPO transformation.
- The large majority of customers will apply online in a fully digital form, including uploading digital photos and supporting documents.
- Those customers who are unable (digital exclusion) to apply online will be provided an ‘assisted digital’ channel and those who do not wish to apply online will be offered alternative channels including a paper based channel, at least for a period of time.
- Any paper documents that HMPO needs in support of an application, which will be minimised to the extent possible, will be verified and digitised at the earliest opportunity in the application process, such that the application is fully digitised upon receipt into examination.
- All applications will be subject to automated checks including facial matching, life event verification (checking birth, marriage and death details) and checking the customer’s details against stop files and watch lists. Applications that fail one or more of the automated checks or which require deeper checks will be passed to a case worker for examination and possibly further intervention.
- This approach will free up examination time for more in depth checks on applications that have the higher perceived level of risk, while avoiding nugatory work on lower risk applications. Through data analytics, the case working teams will have better analysis and data on individuals than is currently available to them and will enhance their ability to identify fraudulent applications.
- The document handling and case working functions are likely to share IT, estate and people with other case working parts of the Home Office, such as UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
- HMPO will make greater use of the data it holds, offering data verification services more widely to the public, private sector and other parts of government to combat identity fraud and protect citizens.
- HMPO will provide a more differentiated service offering, putting the customer in the driving seat. HMPO will offer more optional services to customers, including different delivery options and the option to purchase additional products and services.
Case study 5: Census
Once every 10 years since 1801 every household in England and Wales has been required by law to respond by answering a series of questions, providing an unparalleled source of consistent and comparable information about population, household and housing characteristics. This provides a unique source of detailed statistics that underpins national policymaking to help allocate funding and plan investment and services.
Every decade there is a review to establish whether a 10 yearly census is the best way to meet information needs. In 2014 the National Statistician recommended that there would be an online first census of all households and communal establishments in England and Wales in 2021, with special care taken to support those who are unable to complete the census online. Resulting from this the Census programme has set the following top level objectives:
- run a high quality 2021 online census data collection operation that provides statistics which meet users needs with a target for 75% of responses to be collected through digital channels
- drive the acquisition of new administrative data sources to facilitate population, household and person characteristics to be estimated
- maximise the potential for wider benefits to ONS from the investment in the census
- provide value for money
- protect, and be seen to protect, confidential personal data
- make a recommendation about the future nature of the census and methods for the production of population statistics beyond 2021
The 2021 Census will be digital by default and the target of a 75% online response (up from a 16.7% online response in 2011) is currently the highest of any comparable country. The costs of processing online returns is less than that of paper responses, so the greater the proportion of online responses the lower the cost. In 2011 all households were sent a paper questionnaire but in 2021 households will firstly be provided with an invitation to participate online.
By achieving this online response target the ONS will support the government agenda to drive digital citizen engagement and will provide relevant assisted digital support. ONS will be using behavioural insights and a multi-channel approach to drive up self-completion rates.
The census operation is a large and complex activity. However most of the operation and much of the expenditure is in a comparatively short period of a couple of months around Census Day in 2021. It is an event - rather like the Olympics - there is only one chance to get right.
Census has both digital and non-digital aspects and a waterfall project management approach is being used for the majority of the non-digital delivery. An agile approach is being used for digital delivery and ONS is actively managing how these 2 project management approaches align.
There will be 2 large integrated Census rehearsals in 2017 and 2019. The purpose of these is to confirm the design of the questionnaire and the contract relationships as well as to test and refine operational delivery mechanisms.
Running a Census data collection operation involves the following activities:
- using identification methods for all residential households and communal establishments and supplying each address with the means to respond to the Census
- securely collecting data from each household and, in close to real time, recording responses to identify and follow-up with non respondents
- processing and analysis of the data through back-end systems
- managing a temporary field force to help and persuade the public to respond
- community engagement to ensure maximum inclusion from all sections of society
Once the data collection operation is concluded, a complex set of processes needs to be conducted to convert responses into statistical outputs and then to disseminate those outputs. The scale of the Census means small percentages translate to large volumes; for example 1% of addresses being incorrect inconveniences around 250,000 households.
ONS continues to align to best working practices as informed by GDS guidance and the ‘Better Statistics, Better Decisions’ strategy. All digital and technology work on the Census will follow the overall ONS Enterprise Architecture approach, which is aligned to the Digital by Default strategy adopted across government and the government wide Technology Code of Practice.
The Census programme is part of a wider ONS transformation that is focussed on:
- moving away from developing siloed applications towards the provision of a small number of generic platforms across the organisation
- modernising the ONS technology and data estate
- supporting the wider ONS community to develop the right culture to become an agile organisation focused on a service driven business model
The ONS wide platforms where Census will be involved include:
- online collection - developing online data collection and working with the Data Collection Transformation Programme in ONS which is focussing on the other ONS surveys
- survey management - transforming the efficiency of survey taking by enabling adaptive response management and more effective allocation of workloads
- publishing and dissemination - transforming ONS’s ability to disseminate data through a single web platform and other channels putting users’ needs at the heart of the approach
ONS is responding to spending pressures by reorganising around DevOps principles, using new architectural patterns which emphasise the integration of services ‐ sourced internally or externally (for example, from other national statistical institutes or Government as a Platform - GOV.UK Verify, GOV.UK Notify, GOV.UK Pay etc.) which are delivered via use of cloud‐based services and technologies.
Working with a collaborative approach will mean that value for the organisation is delivered as early as possible. Census is a major digital opportunity for ONS and the entire Official Statistics system, representing a mechanism to transform many of ONS’ systems and facilities. This is being achieved by building minimum viable products with steady incremental enhancement with rigorous testing at each stage. As part of this ONS is committed to working in the open and development code will be shared via Git repository hosting services.
Case study 6: Apprenticeships
The UK is not as productive as many other developed countries. Employers tell us that this is because there is a lack of technical skills in the workplace. Apprenticeships can meet that need by combining off-the-job training with a real job.
The apprenticeship reform programme has been designed to solve the UK’s productivity puzzle. A key part of the programme will be the digital apprenticeship service which goes live in April 2017.
The digital apprenticeship service will help employers in 4 ways.
- Put employers in control: by setting up an account on the service, employers will be able to access funding for apprenticeship training, choose the type of apprenticeships they want to run, the number of apprentices they take on, and the training provider that suits their needs.
- Offer new apprenticeships: the service will list the new apprenticeship standards which have been designed by employers for employers (and will be independently overseen by a new Institute for Apprenticeships).
- Focus on quality: through the service, employers will be able to find the right apprenticeship for them, from entry level to degree level apprenticeships and beyond, and be able to find approved training providers to deliver the training.
- Encourage diversity and social mobility: apprenticeships are an accessible route for all people with aspiration, no matter what their background or circumstances. Degree apprenticeships will enable learners to study to graduate level without getting into debt. Through our service, employers will be able to access a diverse pool of talent.
The way the government funds apprenticeships is changing. From April 2017, larger employers (with a wage bill of over £3 million) will have to pay a levy towards training apprentices. They will be able to manage this funding through the digital apprenticeship service.
We are delivering the new apprenticeships service in a joined up way, bringing together policy, digital and operations teams into a single co-located flexible delivery team.
We run the same fortnightly sprint cycle and unified show and tell across all 3 areas. This is work in progress and we make no claims to having built perfect harmony but the approach has already resulted in much better collaboration, faster and higher quality delivery and much closer engagement with all stakeholders from Ministers to end users.
The digital apprenticeships service is being delivered by people from the Department for Education, the Skills Funding Agency, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and HMRC. Only a culture of open collaboration, iteration and flexibility allows us to deliver at the pace we need across the range of organisations involved.
In the past services tended to be built as monoliths, vast complex code bases running on top of very expensive and complex legacy systems.
In designing the new digital apprenticeship service we started from the premise that we would:
- seek to reuse or integrate services
- build components around open standards and flexible architectures
- put data at the foundation of the new service
- most critically, meet the needs of the users of the service
In short we would use the GDS Design Principles to rethink how we build our core services.
Because the levy is a tax we need to be able to exchange information with HMRC. Rather than build an ad hoc gateway we set up a joint team with HMRC to build a secure integration between apprenticeships and the Tax Platform. This means that we now have a standard, highly performant API based integration with HMRC which makes any future developments much faster, simpler and safer.
The apprenticeships service needs to communicate with many different people and organisations - people looking for opportunities, businesses managing their levy, providers offering services. The list is long. In the past we would have had to build our own tools to send them emails or text messages. Now, thanks to GOV.UK Notify, we can integrate that functionality into our service within a single sprint with the guarantee that the service we are using is robust and economic.
Data is the lifeblood of the new service. It runs in real time and that makes it essential that we can track and respond to issues. So we are building the service around a single, immutable data store that will capture everything that happens across the service. We can then use this data store to feed real time reporting for operations, MI and stock reports for analysis and feedback, and to drive a series of managed APIs for true flexible reporting and data science. The data we collect should be a core asset and we aim to build that in right from the start.
We have built the service with users right from the start. We have carried out user research throughout the process, speaking to 546 employers and 308 providers up to private beta and then involving 100 employers in the private beta itself. We do this because the better the service meets the user need, the simpler it is for people to use. This reduces support costs while driving up takeup. The more we involve users, the more we learn and the better the end service becomes.
Go live is the start of the delivery, not the end. In parallel with delivery of the core service we are moving to a new flexible approach to service operation using supplier agnostic cloud hosting tools, self-scaling and self-healing services, and flexible deployment.
We are sharing knowledge and experience with organisations across government to learn what a great service feels like to operate and to ensure that we are building a service that can rapidly and flexibly respond to the opportunities and challenges of the future.
Case study 7: Defra services for regulated customers
Defra’s Regulated Customer Digital Programme has delivered modern digital services to make it easier for customers to do business with government, as well as delivering significant business benefits. It is transforming the way Defra works as a regulator to protect people, the environment, and supporting sustainable growth.
Defra has placed the customer at the heart of digital service design, delivering efficient and innovative new online services, and supporting the delivery of several government efficiency strategies including:
- the government’s ‘red tape challenge’
- Defra’s 10 point plan for growth
- the Environment Agency’s Smarter Environmental Regulation Review
New digital services
Defra has delivered a number of new exemplar digital services for a large number of regulated customers and is continually transforming the services for others, including:
- fishing rod licensing (‘I want to fish’) - applying for a rod licence online
- waste exemptions - businesses can easily register their exemptions
- data returns - companies providing data on their environmental performance
- permitting for flood risk assessments - apply for permits to build in areas of flood risk
- international waste shipments online - supporting companies in exporting or importing waste
- waste electrical and electronic equipment online - helping companies meet their recycling obligations
Making things simpler
The Regulated Customer Digital Programme has enabled Defra to deliver transformed services following the Smarter Environmental Regulation Review by:
- simplifying and improving processes and procedures on how regulated customers interact with us, transforming from paper based approaches to digital online services
- reducing the amount of guidance and support material by providing simple on screen supporting information and content
- simplifying how data is collected and managed so that customers only need to provide it once
Using agile delivery to become more efficient
Through the Regulated Customer Digital Programme, Defra has used the latest agile delivery techniques to embed a digital by default approach. By continually improving new and existing digital services Defra has also identified further efficiencies and ensured the maximum benefit is realised for users.
It has also developed services on platforms that can be reused across Defra group - to reduce the cost of developing future digital services. Efficiency savings were delivered through moving outdated paper based processes to smarter environmental regulation, delivering more for the environment.
Transforming services for customers
The Regulated Customer Digital Programme has actively demonstrated collaboration across government to deliver the Digital by Default strategy, and demonstrated how substantial benefits can be achieved for the communities Defra serves.
Defra has engaged with a large proportion of its regulated customer base through detailed user research, enabling customers to help develop digital services that meet their needs, and improving how they engage with Defra in future.
- more than 75% of customers say they are satisfied or very satisfied with the new services
- Waste Carriers Licence digital service has an 85% satisfaction rate (based on first 2,000 registrations)
- Waste Exemptions Digital Service has a 92% satisfaction rate (based on first 550 registrations)
Reducing Defra costs
The Regulated Customer Digital Programme will deliver £1.3 million annual savings for Defra through the decommissioning of legacy systems and other efficiency measures by 2016 to 2017.