By Dora-Olivia Vicol - 20 May 2021
Public services in the UK are increasingly moving online. If you want to pay your taxes, claim Universal Credit, or even prove your right to work under the EU Settlement Scheme, you need to do so online by creating a personal account for each one of these services.
For the Government, the transition online is a long-term commitment. According to the Government Transformation Strategy published in 2017, the internet age will make government services quicker to assemble, more responsive, and cheaper. But for a sizeable minority of people, the digitisation of public services is a struggle.
Over the past five years of frontline work, we've seen hundreds of people who are unable to create and manage these accounts. We've spent hours helping them create accounts and retrieve login details when they are lost. But with all our energy, we're still a small team trying to tackle a national problem. We need a solution that can be scaled, and that puts people in control of their government accounts.
We want to develop an account manager that makes it easier to keep links and login details together - in a way that is accessible, mobile friendly, and above all secure. We have obtained funding from the Brent Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL), and have one year to develop a pilot project.
This project happens in stages.
1. Research (June). We'll run a few focus groups with frontline advisers, to understand what are the main accounts, and barriers, that people encounter when managing them.
2. Prototyping (July-Aug). We'll sketch a solution, submit it to our user research group for feedback, and refine it.
3. Product development (Sept-Oct). A technical team will work on developing a solution that works in practice.
4. Product testing (Nov-Jan). A group of frontline advisers will test the solution in the real world, with people who consent to taking part.
5. Product iteration (Feb - March). The technical team will use feedback from the field to adjust the product, iron out the creases that can be fixed, and draft a plan further development.
6. Launch (April 2022). We come together to present the app to the rest of the world. We'll explain the journey, its strengths and any areas for improvement, with a view to give the world a real solution.
This project will only work with sustained input from users and frontline advisers who, like us, have spent hours helping people navigate their government accounts. If you'd like to take part in research, fill out this short expression of interest. We have a small budget to pay for your time, with £50/participating organisation.
If you have any questions, we'd love to hear from you. Get in touch via our contact form.
Thank you for your contribution!