Taking the time to get it right

26 Mar 2018 |Written by Kevin Maye

Last August, my colleague Charlotte wrote about our work on updating our Universal Credit guide and support materials. Our plan at the time suggested those updates would be launched in September. So why am I writing about this in March?

Well, it probably shouldn’t have surprised us, given the complexity of Universal Credit that it took longer than expected to dot the Is and cross the Ts.

Making changes based on feedback and then sharing the updated versions for further feedback pushed September into October.

Then in October Universal Credit was all over the news.

That would probably have been a good time to launch, and get our guide in everyone's face.

The trouble was, we still weren’t totally happy that we’d got everything right. We couldn’t risk giving people poor guidance that could lead to them suffering further hardship.

Turns out that we were right to hold on as two things happened in November that changed all our plans.

First was the Autumn Budget which included a raft of changes to Universal Credit. - leading to another rewrite of the guide.

Second, we were given the opportunity to share our work with the Department of Work and Pensions. There couldn’t be any better experts to talk to.

Any worries that working with such a massive Government department would be laborious or overly bureaucratic were soon dispelled. They were very collaborative, providing considered feedback promptly, which only improved the guide. It was well worth a further short delay.

While we wouldn’t have chosen to hold on this long in an ideal world, we’re now more confident than ever that our updates are right and will be useful for people struggling to get to grips with Universal Credit.

So, job done? Not quite.

Universal Credit is still developing - there are further changes involving Housing Benefit already planned for next month - so, we’re working hard to stay up to date with these and will make further changes on Learn My Way as those changes take effect.

From the workshops with Online Centres network members last summer, to consulting DWP and our other partners, the key to making Universal Credit: a how to guide has been collaboration.

We’re listening to both those building tools like Universal Credit, and those who’ll need to use them, to make sure the support we provide works for the people who need it most.

I hope you think that all the hard work was worth it. I’d love to hear your feedback.