Supplier sought for two-year contract as department admits it is ‘unable to scale at sufficient speed’
Credit: Isabel Infantes/EMPICS Entertainment
The Department for Work and Pensions is seeking support from a commercial partner to meet the challenges of migrating to Universal Credit claimants of “legacy benefits”.
Bidding ends today for potential suppliers of a two-year contract to provide the DWP with short-notice digital support. This will include the supply of professionals in fields such of software engineering, testing, and delivery management.
The department has a budget of up to £5.025m to spend via the deal, which is an example of a so-called ‘bench’ arrangement, a flexible agreement through which departments can use to quickly bring in additional expert staff to meet urgent objectives.
The ultimate goal of the work to be undertaken is to find people still claiming one of the six benefits being replaced by Universal Credit – Jobseekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, and Working Tax Credit – and then “safely move people at scale” to UC.
The contract notice makes it clear that this is not a challenge the DWP believes it can meet without external support.
“The department is unable to scale at a sufficient speed to respond and increase capacity to the level needed to meet the timescales of the ‘Move to UC’ project,” it said. “The department, therefore, needs access at short notice to resources that can help design, build, and deliver digital services as part of a blended team approach.”
The chosen supplier will assist the DWP in creating a digital service that intends to makes it as easy and seamless as possible for citizens to switch to the new benefit.
“To achieve better outcomes for citizens, our objective is to provide an excellent digital journey from legacy benefits to Universal Credit,” the department said. “After an initial discovery phase and identification of suitable candidate claimants, the team would design and deliver the necessary user-centric services to provide clear information and a consistent and joined-up user journey from their current benefit service to Universal Credit.”
Work will be undertaken by teams composed of a “broad range of DDaT (digital, data and technology) roles with a combination of permanent and external supplier resources”.
“These teams are referred to as ‘theme teams’ and contain roles to deliver digital and operational requirements from initial problem statement through to delivery and support,” the contract notice said. “Preferred bidders will be required to collaborate across multiple teams and multiple disciplines.”
About 60% of work provided by the successful bidder will take place remotely, with the remainder largely split between departmental hubs in Leeds, London, and Manchester; the latter two will each host one “feature team”, the DWP said.
The department hopes to begin working with its chosen supplier by late October. The contract awarded will last for an initial term of two years, with an optional six-month extension.