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Enhancing our digital capability

There is no shortage of hype around digital transformation but never has the mantra: ‘innovate or die’ been more true.

There are some who see technology and the internet as disruptive, forcing organisations to break with the past and re-engineer how they work.

Others see it as a game-changing force for good – breaking down the barriers of entry for new businesses and creating a level playing field for both entrepreneurs and innovators.

Both are true but it won’t surprise you that I’m definitely drinking from a glass that’s more than half-full rather than half-empty.

That said, I do not underestimate the unique challenges and opportunities that digital transformation brings for Government.

At DWP, it provides the opportunity to revolutionise how we interact with millions of people everyday and improve the services we provide.

Already 80% of Jobseeker’s Allowance claims are made online, but we know there is more to do to bridge the digital gap. Anyone contacting our staff today will probably go to a Jobcentre or call us on the phone. In the coming years, our vision is that most of those interactions will be done via the web or a mobile phone interface.

We will continue the move over to automated transactions, which will improve the claims process and free up resources so that our frontline staff can focus more on helping people into work.

What DWP does matters for society and the millions of customers who depend on our services. We are reforming the welfare system to ensure it promotes work and helps people lift themselves out of poverty.

We are also bringing in root-and-branch change to the pensions system, including a new state pension that increases the attractiveness of saving for retirement. The scale of the change and the challenge is huge.

It is this unique intellectual, cultural and operational challenge that persuaded me to come to DWP, having spent most of my career at companies like Goldman Sachs and Vodafone. I have seen for myself during various visits, such as one to Hackney Jobcentre, the pride and passion of DWP staff and the excitement about the potential for change.

I am not alone in embracing this challenge, it is a trend we are seeing across the Department with more and more best-in-class digital talent from outside Government seeing DWP as their Whitehall destination.

At DWP, we offer the chance to get involved in something that is genuinely transformational and unparalleled in terms of complexity and scale by anything in the UK private sector.

Today we take the next step in a journey of changing the DNA of the DWP. We are starting the recruitment for 25 posts to further enhance our already burgeoning digital talent and capability.

It builds on the steps we have already taken including launching the DWP’s first-ever Digital Academy. The Academy will provide a range of intensive training courses in how to work in our digital programmes. It is supported by other departments, including Government Digital Service who are forerunners in blazing the trail for digital innovation in Government. We want hundreds of our key employees to go through it in coming months.

The new recruitment focuses on the following roles: Web Ops, Developers and User Experience (UX) designers. They will make a huge difference in improving the customer and claimant experience.

The projects the successful individuals will work on are across a whole range of major programmes including the Single Tier pension, Carers Allowance and Personal Independence Payment as well as Universal Credit.

This most radical transformation of the welfare state in Britain has understandably attracted attention in the media. But, as I saw recently in Hammersmith Jobcentre, Universal Credit is profoundly better than the service it replaced and is changing lives for the better.
I truly believe that we are making good progress in the development of an enhanced future service that we will start testing later this year. But we are not complacent about the digital challenges ahead and we need to embrace digital change in Government.

We need to be even more confident and bold, embracing digital innovation and taking a radically new approach, testing new ideas like Buzzfeed. It might mean that instead of the DWP working with suppliers to develop a piece of software in six months, that we up the pace and try to do it every two weeks – allowing us to continually improve the service and test new ideas.

Enhancing our digital capability will help us do this and deliver a better service for the public. Today is another important step in that journey.

You can find out more detail about the jobs on offer here:

Web Ops:

Java Developers:

User Experience designers:

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