DWP explores expansion of videocall options for citizen services

Department publishes early stage commercial notice seeking supplier input and outlining its intent to examine various possible options ahead of planned rollout of audiovisual channels for citizens to access services

The Department for Work and Pensions has outlined an ambition to enable more citizens to connect with services and obtain support via videocall platforms.

The rollout of audiovisual contact systems will support objectives set out in the department’s “digital strategic roadmap to deploy multi-channel capabilities providing DWP and its customers with more channels for connecting whilst putting the customer at the heart of the journey”, according to a newly published commercial notice.

The document added that the possible implementation of video calls comes as the technology has become much more widely used by the public.

“The maturity of our customers’ technical capability has been rapidly evolving, and DWP requires a flexible solution that can be used across different lines of businesses,” the procurement notice said. “As such, DWP is considering a range of flexible solutions from COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) to bespoke packages.”

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The department is looking to engage with specialist suppliers to explore what it describes as “as an emerging requirement which they would like to explore with the market and understand offerings”.

Potential providers interested in engaging with the department are asked to send an email to cd.digital@dwp.gov.uk, after which they which they will be required to complete a non-disclosure agreement and a questionnaire providing more details of their business.

The commercial notice indicates that the DWP expects to launch a formal procurement process in September before entering into a four-year contract with the winning bidder in December. The department has not yet provided details of the projected value of the contract.

DWP began offering remote video assessments for some benefit claims in 2021 and, in December of that year, the department signed an initial two-year contract with specialist firm Involve to support the initiative. That deal, which is worth about £2m a year to the Warrington-based company, is set to expire on 30 November – but could be extended until 2025 at the department’s discretion.

The agreement is intended “to support the activities of varied lines of business from within the Department for Work and Pensions as it is made possible for customers/citizens to interact with the department via video as opposed to face-to-face, via mail, chat services or over the telephone”, the contract said.

“The detail of this to be stated by each line of business as it prepares to consume video services for customer/citizen interactions,” it added. “These may be markedly different between DWP services.”

Sam Trendall

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