Courts service to expand support for digitally excluded in £10m scheme

Users to be given additional help using online services

Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

HM Courts and Tribunals Service has signed a £10m contract to improve support for citizens that have trouble using online services.

The deal, awarded to inclusion-focused training firm We are Digital, will include the provision of in-person help at community locations such as Citizens Advice centres. It will also cover advice delivered over the phone – which will run alongside existing “lighter-touch digital support” provided directly by HMCTS call centres. We are Digital experts will also provide guidance through video and audioconferencing tools, such as Skype.

The goal of the programme is to provide assistance to citizens that have difficulty accessing online services.

“People’s needs vary,” HMCTS said. “They may need support across the end-to-end journey for HMCTS services, or they may need help to complete an online form.”

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Support will be available across England and Wales, including in Welsh. Guidance will be available in Scotland for tribunal-related services only.

The scheme is being rolled out on a nationwide scale after a pilot, run by digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation, that provided assistance to more than 1,000 people.

HMCTS said: “Support was delivered through a small network of community and advice centres, helping us understand what a larger national support service would look like.”

Design and testing of the national service will take place over the next six months, ahead of being rolled out fully in the spring of next year.

Mike Brazier, head of digital inclusion at HMCTS said: “This is a great service that will help people access the justice services they need and I’m really proud of the work the team have done. We are grateful to Good Things Foundation for their work on piloting our digital support service and look forward to working with We are Digital to continue our commitment to supporting people who need assistance to use our online services.”

We are Digital won the contract following a competitive tender process.

Sam Trendall

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