The most extensive reform to the UK welfare system in five decades- Universal Credit – is underway and presents some unique challenges and opportunities, as outlined in a recent article in The Guardian. With a change this massive, how does the UK government implement Universal Credit consistently and communicate clearly with its citizens?
Defining the Change
Universal Credit is a new, single payment system for people who are looking for work or on a low income. Its goal is to cut costs by simplifying the benefits systems by bringing together multiple benefits into a single payment, which citizens apply for through one online source. Transitioning to Universal Credit will involve a focus on citizen self-service by going digital and centralizing services within the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Digital by Default
One of the most significant changes in making the transition to Universal Credit is the shift it requires in the way citizens have traditionally interacted with government authorities. Historically, citizens needed to work with a number of different local authorities to apply for and manage the set of government services they receive. The bulk of this interaction between citizens and government has been paper-based and moving to a digital delivery system will require effective communication with citizens. Issues to address in this area include applicants’ potential lack of digital skills and access to digital channels.
For a successful Universal Credit transition, local authorities need to evaluate their role in implementing the change. To support that task, the DWP has published a Local Support Services reference document to help local authorities build their citizen outreach efforts and tailor the ideal delivery model region by region. The most critical components of building the delivery model will be:
• Identifying Customers
• Understanding and Planning to Mitigate the Impact
• Demand Management and Influencing
How can local authorities reach the most citizens most efficiently? In his white paper, Universal Credit: Challenges, Changes and Digital Communication, Dr. Gerald Power – an expert in public sector change and efficiency improvement – discusses best practices for how local authorities can inform and engage their citizens. Local authorities with a comprehensive set of digital communication solutions can leverage a wide range of tools to enhance citizen communication initiatives related to Universal Credit.
Download Dr. Power’s white paper to read more about how robust digital communication platforms can help local authorities implement the transition to Universal Credit.