Preparing the DWP for Universal Credit

Interviews, survey and data analysis powered the insight we used to identify user needs, and focus on where we could deliver most value


The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) needed to prepare jobcentres and service centres so they could administer a new benefit called Universal Credit to millions of UK households. The tasks covered everything from staff training to building works, and would involve tens of thousands of DWP colleagues, all with different areas of responsibility. 

The challenges were to: 

  • Stop people being overwhelmed by the volume of tasks
  • Ensure tasks are done in the right way at the right time 
  • Provide what was needed to complete the tasks 
  • Inform everyone about the current status of activities


We started by interviewing and observing 50 people, from front line staff to those responsible for policy and strategy. This was followed up with surveys and data analysis to understand and validate the thoughts and behaviours of several hundred more people.

We identified the main user needs, and focused on where we could deliver most value – helping people undertake the tasks.

A number of prototypes were created and tested in usability studies with end-users; this gave us the insight we needed to keep the interface as optimal as possible, and get the right information in front of users at the right point in their journey.

We carried out a private beta trial after passing the GDS assessment, and used this insight to create further prototypes for testing. 

Throughout the project, we kept people informed and engaged through in-situ change messaging and regular show-and-tells.

What we did

The service so far has been used by over 14,000 DWP colleagues to get over 800 jobcentres and 30 service centres ready and delivering Universal Credit to over 8 million UK households. It is now also being reused for other preparation activities on other projects across the DWP. 

The feedback we gathered on the service from across our user groups was always very positive with 91% of users rating it 4 or 5 stars in anonymous surveys.