The Department for Communities' (DfC) Finance Support Project has developed a new online application form for Discretionary Support.

The new online application form, which is hosted on nidirect, went live on 5th August 2021. The form has been developed as part of a wider initiative to transform the Finance Support service.

Julie Kirkwood, Delivery Manager for the Finance Support Project explains:

“The Project was set up in early 2021 to deliver a transformed Finance Support Service. This has been an exciting opportunity for DfC to develop a bespoke service for people in our community. Co-design has been critical to the success of the project so far in combining knowledge from the third sector, Finance Support operational colleagues and IT experts to develop products and services that will better meet the needs of the people we serve. 

The first key milestone for the project was the implementation of a new online application form which went live on 5 August 2021. Customer feedback on the form has been incredibly positive with just under 90% of claimants telling us the form met or exceeded their needs. A small number of claimants provided suggestions for improvement before successfully submitting their form. One third sector representative described the online form as “a game changer” whilst another reported “I must say my team is really happy with the new online form. Not one grumble so far”. The application form is supported by a telephony team who are available to assist customers with all aspects of the application journey.”

Anne Murdock, Finance Support Operational Manager added:

“I am confident that this new form meets the needs of both staff and the people accessing our service. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted that in the absence of face-to-face services, it is important to offer the public accessible and functional digital processes. Last year over 77,000 Discretionary Support awards were made, often to those applying for the very first time, and so the introduction of this new application form is an important step towards improving the customer experience in what is a vital service providing much needed help to many people.”

The Finance Support Project Team will now move forward to co-design and develop a new Workflow and Decision Making Tool for operational staff to complement the new online application form.

The Discretionary Support application form can be accessed via nidirect. 

More information on the Discretionary Support programme and eligibility is also available on nidirect here

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