Public Services > Central Government

DWP awards £2.5m appointment booking solution contract

Neil Merrett Published 30 May 2017

While GDS is understood to have no current plans for a cross department booking solution, DWP has signed a 12 month contract for appointment system to support Universal Credit

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has awarded a 12 month contract to provide an appointment booking system for Universal Credit as it considers whether later this year to purchase a new system to support these functions.

Under the agreement, which is valued at £2.5m and came into effect at the beginning of this month, supplier Booking Bug will provide a solution to handle between 21 million and 25 million annual applications for the delayed welfare reform project. 

The new contract is scheduled to end on April 30, 2018, with DWP considering its future options for appointment booking technology.  The Government Digital Service (GDS) is not presently thought to be planning the development of a cross-departmental technology that might meet these needs.

The Booking Bug solution will form part of ongoing work to introduce a new digital solution that is intended to deliver the full service of Universal Credit, which aims to merge employment and support allowance, income support, child tax credit, working tax credit, and housing benefit into a single payment.

Government Computing reported last week that DWP was considering procuring a dedicated appointment booking system for Universal Credit claimants that would replace the existing solution used for the programme.

The booking system will host staff locations, availability and skill sets which define the types of appointments the DWP staff are trained to handle. The information will then be used to find a DWP staffer within a jobcentre that is available and trained to handle the appointment, according to a procurement note on Contracts Finder.

Common platform

As part of the delayed Government Transformation Strategy released earlier this year, Whitehall was considering the possibility of an appointment booking function that could be adopted by numerous departments among a number of potential future developments.

These developments are in line with GDS’ Government as a Platform (GaaP) strategy.  Through GaaP, Whitehall has been committed to developing common tools and standards for use across departments and authorities resulting in a number of solutions such as GOV.UK Notify and GOV.UK that are undergoing further development.

The new transformation strategy noted that a number of wider platforms were being considered for adoption in Whitehall.  These were based around payments and common forms functionality that had been developed by the DWP and Home Office respectively.

However, with a General Election to be held June 8, it is understood that there are no current plans to develop a cross-government approach to appointments.

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