Public Services > Central Government

DWP to procure ‘off the shelf’ appointment booking system for Universal Credit

David Bicknell Published 12 September 2017

Solution for a five year contract expected to be a “seven figure sum” for cloud-based system providing 99.9% availability supporting UC full service


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has issued a tender for a “cloud-based, commercial off-the-shelf” appointment booking system to support the Universal Credit full-service.

The contract, for an initial three years which could be extended by two year-long extension periods is, in DWP’s words, “substantial financial value; for the maximum five-year duration, it is expected that the whole-life cost will be a seven-figure sum.”

The appointment booking system is necessary, DWP’s tender says, “for the creation and management of claimants' appointments with DWP staff. The system will host staff locations, availability and skill sets which define the types of appointments the DWP staff are trained to handle. This information will be used to find a DWP member of staff, within a JobCentre, that is available and trained to handle the appointment.”

According to the tender, due to the timescales and the need for the Universal Credit full service to utilise the appointment booking system's APIs, the system must “meet the stated requirements with minimal additional development work and customisation.” The tender adds, “the department does not require a booking system to be built and custom-designed.”

DWP’s requirement is for a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year system with a service level agreement (SLA) that provides 99.90% availability, “as the Appointment Booking System will be supporting the Universal Credit full service which allows claimants to access their online claim at any time.”

DWP also needs the data to be migrated from its current appointment booking system to the new one, comprising all current and future appointments, plus related data, such as staff availability, JobCentre information and appointment types.

DWP’s documentation points out that there are currently around 750 JobCentres across the UK and Northern Ireland, with around 23,000 DWP staff supporting claimants. Each member of DWP staff who supports claimants will have a calendar in the appointment booking system. A JobCentre can have up to 120 work coaches and all work coaches all require diaries.

From October 2017, DWP said, the Universal Credit full service will be rolled out to 50 job centres a month. When the full service is fully rolled out in June 2018, DWP said, it is anticipated that 30m appointments (or 2.5m appointments per month) will be created and managed on an annual basis via the appointment booking system.

The closing date for tenders is October 9 with a start date of January 1 next year. The contract end date is December 31 2022.

In May, DWP said it had awarded a 12-month contract to provide an appointment booking system for Universal Credit as it considered whether "later this year" to purchase a new system to support these functions.

Under the agreement, valued at £2.5m, Booking Bug was to provide a solution to handle between 21 million and 25 million annual applications for the delayed welfare reform project. The Booking Bug contract was scheduled to end on April 30, 2018.


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