Carer's Allowance - Live Assessment

The report from the live assessment for DWP's Carer's Allowance service on 13 November 2014.

Department / Agency:
Department for Work & Pensions

Date of Assessment:
13/11/2014

Assessment stage:
Live

Result of Assessment:
Pass

Lead Assessor:
L. Reichelt

Service Manager:
P. Desmond

Digital Leader:
K. Cunnington


About the service

Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for people looking after someone with substantial caring needs. Users can currently make a claim through the post or online. The exemplar project replaced the previous online claim process which had low take-up and did not meet the standards set out in the department’s digital strategy. https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance

Outcome of service assessment

The Carer’s Allowance service is seeking permission to be branded a Live Digital by Default service on the service.gov.uk domain.

After completing the assessment, the panel can confirm the Carer’s Allowance service has shown sufficient evidence of meeting the Digital by Default Service Standard and should go Live as a Digital by Default service on GOV.UK. The service can now remove any Beta branding.

Reasons

The service was assessed against and has met all 26 points of the Digital by Default Service Standard.

The assessment panel congratulates the team on the progress that has been made on this service and within the team since the beta assessment. This service is a real exemplar of what comes from putting users at the heart of the service, using research and usage data to identify opportunities for improvement and prioritising work to help the service better meet user needs. The panel hopes that other teams in DWP will look to the way the service team was created and the processes and methods that have been used, as they work on other DWP digital services.

Areas that stood out to the panel include:

  • A deep understanding of the user needs through extensive and iterative user research. The team really understand and can clearly state the needs that people have when they encounter this service and work hard to make sure that the work they do on the service directly impacts the user experience in a meaningful and measurable way.
  • The development of the in-house team, and the work done to help DWP staff develop the skills to be able to work in a user-centric, iterative and agile way.
  • Working with the wider team, including policy, to make difficult but important changes to the service design including removing 172 questions from the application form (49% of the questions) and removing the need for wet signatures.
  • Excellent use of data and analytics to guide the prioritisation of work on the service.
  • Ability and extensive experience with rapidly and frequently updating the service and great ability to iterate.
  • Early and iterative research to understand the assisted digital needs of the users and working to develop ways of supporting these needs.
  • Collaboration with the design and user research communities across government to share knowledge and experience and contribution to shared repositories so that many other teams can benefit from the good work done in this service.
  • The commitment to continue with this agile and user centred way of working beyond achieving ‘live’ status and having the team and necessary infrastructure (for example, procurements for the user research lab for continued ongoing research) in place with appropriate budgets, for the next 12 months.

Recommendations

The panel commends the team for the work they have done to run pilots and to work closely with their call centre to make sure that people who need assistance with the digital service are well supported. We encourage the team to continue to explore ways of seeking out people who need additional support using digital services and to continue to iteratively improve both the telephone and in person services through testing, as you would the digital service.

The service must continue to work with the assisted digital team at GDS to ensure appropriate support is in place as the digital service rolls out to users currently using non-digital alternatives. This work should include further user research specifically with assisted digital users who are currently using the non-digital alternatives to the digital service. It should also include developing specific testing of the assisted digital support within the broader phone support. The work should also include continuing to design and test assisted digital support with those same users, ensuring it meets their needs and volume.

The service’s ongoing research and testing must continue to ensure that assisted digital from third party organisations is high quality and sustainable. The service must also ensure that users receiving assisted digital support from friends and family continue to have a sustainable and tested alternative available, and that an alternative paper-based service is not included as part of any assisted digital support.

The panel encourages the team to ensure prompt migration to DWP’s analytics platform once this is available.

The panel also encourages the team to have a content designer run through the service again to ensure that it follows the GOV.UK style guide.

The content would also benefit from a full ‘second pair of eyes’ check before launch.

Summary

The work that the team has done on the Carer’s Allowance service is a real exemplar of how a user-centred and agile approach to delivery leads to a better outcome for users, especially those who need our help the most. As the team said in the assessment, ‘with everything else that is going on in their lives, claiming Carer’s Allowance should be the least of their worries’. The team has done a great service to these users and the team’s great work has taken a lot of stress away from people who most deserve our support.

Digital by Default Service Standard criteria

Criteria Passed Criteria Passed
1 Yes 2 Yes
3 Yes 4 Yes
5 Yes 6 Yes
7 Yes 8 Yes
9 Yes 10 Yes
11 Yes 12 Yes
13 Yes 14 Yes
15 Yes 16 Yes
17 Yes 18 Yes
19 Yes 20 Yes
21 Yes 22 Yes
23 Yes 24 Yes
25 Yes 26 Yes

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