DWP backed with £17m to digitise services and upgrade Child Maintenance systems

The funding pledge – announced as a trailer for the budget – is intended to enable the department to implement a new system to support the delivery of service for separated parents

The Department for Work and Pensions has been given multimillion-pound funding to upgrade the IT systems used to support the delivery of the Child Maintenance Service.

The commitment of £17m – first announced earlier this week in a mini-preview of a measure subsequently contained in the budget – will also help the department invest in digitising operations that currently rely on paper, according to the text of the red book.

“The government is committing £17 million to accelerate DWP’s digital transformation, replacing paper-based processes with simplified online services, such as a new system for the Child Maintenance Service,” the fiscal document says.

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The service in question is offered by the DWP to help separated parents agree and arrange support payments. It can also be used to “sort out disagreements about parentage”, to help one parent to “try to find the other parent if you do not know where they are”. It can also support those users who wish to “arrange child maintenance [and] do not want your child’s other parent to know your location or personal information”.

The service was only offered via telephone until December 2019, when a digital tool was launched in private beta mode. The online service was gradually expanded and upgraded over the 18 months thereafter, and was being used by about 80% of users – equating to almost 60,000 people – by mid-2021.

The £17m backing for DWP digitisation forms part of an overall commitment of £4.2bn set out in the budget to use technology and data to transform public services. The majority of this funding – some £3.4bn – will go to the NHS, while £230m will support tech initiatives in policing.

Sam Trendall

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