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Universal Credit Digital Service: building new skills

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Agile development, Software Development, Technical Architecture, Universal Credit

The Universal Credit Digital Service is helping build new skills, both for the claimants using it, and for the technical team building it.

Universal Credit Digital Service video transcript

Rob Thompson, Universal Credit Digital Service

“UC digital is a flagship project, and it’s a flagship project for a number of different reasons.

The first one is the sheer scale of what is trying to be achieved. I think this is probably the largest digital transformation project that I’ve ever come across in my career. This is the first development of a system in-house for 20 years, so we’ve had to build that capability from scratch.

We’ve had to bring in all the engineering knowledge back into the business. That’s involved us delivering many, many features, some very important attributes, such as the ability to do an auto calculation, and automatic payment for the claimant, which went live this morning. I think we are the first production service that’s utilised cloud hosting.

We’ve got 90 virtual machines running the production service, which is the equivalent of 90 computers, all processing and doing and clicking and whirring. We’ve written approximately 100,000 lines of code, that’s mainly java, with some javascript for the front end.

We’ve done 4 systems integrations over the course of the year, so we’ve put an online service, and connected that to key systems like Customer Information System (CIS), Real Time Earnings (RTE), (Central Payment System (CPS) and Debt Management System (DMS).

If you think about what UC digital is actually doing, it’s essentially making our payment facility indirectly accessible to the internet. Obviously the security ramifications of that are very, very high.

The platform itself is engineered to separate key components and data away from each other, so if anybody got in they would never get a whole picture of what was going on. Similarly it’s zoned in a particular way that means if someone, an attacker got into a certain area it would be very difficult to get into other areas.

The engineering feats have been quite astounding, but it’s been largely driven through a very, very high quality, dedicated team who are passionate about delivering.”

Zia Latte, Work Coach, Job Centre Plus, Sutton

“So the really, really exciting thing about the Universal Credit Digital Service for us is that we have a daily impact and an influence on how the service is shaped, and how it’s evolving.

On the system we currently have just over 1600 claimants who have made a claim. Not all of those have carried through, we’re not seeing all of those now. Some are in work groups that mean we don’t see them on a regular basis in the office, but they are still interacting with the service centre.

Feedback we’ve had from claimants is that initially to set up it’s quite straightforward. There’s not a great volume of information they need to give us online when they’re going through the claim.

They’re getting used to having user names and passwords, and security numbers which many people have not had to use before, so I think that’s a really good introduction to the digital world. And because we’re able to offer support through the work coach team, and through our front of house team on the ground floor, so we’re supporting them.

And they’re free to drop in, they’re using our drop in services, so they’re saying that’s really helping them with their understanding of the digital world. We can also contact them in a very secure way through their account. We send them text messages so they can pick that up when they’re on the move, they know there’s an update on their account. They can check it immediately and take action.

I think anyone that becomes involved in the digital service is in a really lucky position to be able to do something that is revolutionary really, and we’re having a real impact on shaping the service for claimants, and our colleagues in the future.”

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