Existing civil registration processes require citizens to attend lengthy (30-40 minute) appointments with a registrar, to provide information for a birth or death to be registered. As with death registration, birth registration includes a significant amount of manual data entry and does not facilitate flexible, convenient or efficient service options for users.
Whilst current legislation requires some elements of registration to be face-to-face, there is an opportunity to provide an online service that allows citizens to share much of the information upfront, making the appointment much shorter and more efficient (5-10 minutes).
Registering a birth can be time consuming process for new parents who are going through a transformative change, at a highly emotional time in their lives. Despite this there has been limited improvement or innovation in recent years to the way we help users comply with this statutory duty, or how we meet growing customer expectations.
The current reliance on paper and manual data entry not only make process burdensome and less convenient for citizens, but also lead to errors and inefficiencies for registration staff.
It is expected that by digitising the capture and sharing of registration data earlier in the process, it will also allow the introduction of greater validation and checks that will improve quality and accuracy, and help to tackle growing levels of identity fraud.
This would present immediate benefit forthe local registration service, in time savings and efficiency at the appointment, and alsoto citizensby offering greater choice over how they register the birth.
This Discovery would be used to further explore the needs of citizens and registration staff when registering a birth, and to test assumptions about partial online registration, for example by looking for opportunities to remove paper from the end to end process.
Strategically, the future direction of travel for civil registration, in line with customer expectation and Government Digital by Design objectives, is to move to a position whereby the majority of straightforward births and deaths can be registered online. Should legislation be achieved to enable online registration, a new system would be required to deliver it.
A partial online provision of the registration process where customers registering a birth are able to populate key event information online (with a reduced face-to-face appointment) would be a ‘stepping-stone’ to introducing a fully online provision.
The discovery would look to test our hypothesis that by capturing birth data (digitally) ahead of registration, we would be able to:
- Reduce the amount of paper-based and manual processes making the service more cost efficient
- Allow users to share information at their convenience and pace, in a less stressful environment (e.g. downtime at home or hospital ward)
- Focus time and resource on validating and checking data rather than just capturing (value-add tasks as opposed to menial tasks)
- Improve data quality by introducing automated checks and validation
- HMPO has already developed a high-level design for online death registration; we need to test whether the differences in the customer dynamics, the underpinning process and Local Registrar procedures allow the development of a single online registration service.
A number of pieces of work are being carried out to look at how Civil Registration services can be improved for users and to support LA’s including:
- A high-level service design for improved death registration, similarly to digitise some of the data capture and sharing for greater efficiencies and improved data quality
- Engagement with OGDs to identify opportunities for improvements in how registration data is captured, shared and used
- HMPO will use the findings from this discovery, including the feedback from local registrars in designing the update of their registration systems.
Research methods would include:
- Qualitative – home interviews or video-call interviews with birth informants, user-labs to walk-through scenarios and prototypes with users, shadowing of registrars, observing registrations in different districts, customer journey mapping.
- Quantitative – customer surveys, analysis of existing GRO data
- Stakeholder interviews – research carried out with partners such as NHS to clearly understand the wider context and end to end process that data is shared.
- Expert engagement – research with relevant organisations and service providers who have had success in this area, such as New Zealand Registration services.
The research is designed to gather insights from a range of different Local Authorities with contrasting circumstances and needs. Importantly, we will be working with districts that have very different population sizes, cultural and ethnic make-ups, operating models and structures. By investigating the current pain points and opportunities present in differing councils, we aim to understand the needs of a number of extreme use cases as well as the common challenges to ensure our proposed solutions are adaptable and cater for a wide range of needs.
Broadly, there are several financial and non-financial costs primarily for Local Authorities, but also the customer registering a birth. These costs are not unique to a specific local authority or region in the country as the process of registering a birth is reinforced by legislation. Therefore, this means that the financial and non-financial costs will broadly apply to all districts and authorities across the country although there may be some small differences between authorities which we are as yet unaware of.
The financial costs mostly reside in the inefficiencies arising from extended registration appointment times which could be substantially reduced. Initial analysis estimates that the introduction of partial online registration through front and back end efficiencies could reduce overall process time by 41% and generate up to £7 million of efficiency savings for Local Authorities (assuming a 50% customer take-up of the online pre-population option.
See Annex A for more information on the calculations of the financial and resource costs.
There is also the intangible impact on the value of time for the customer which is difficult to quantify but important to recognise. It is possible that particularly within the context of a new birth where time could be argued to be more valuable, the customer may value a more streamlined journey experience. This discovery would be used to better investigate what these wider costs are to users.
- Weekly team calls, regular project reports and a secure, shared digital space allowing stakeholders to view progress, provide input and access important documents and insight (complying with GDS guidance), ensuring representation from each stakeholder group, and team alignment.
- A project lead will be assigned to the discovery as a point of contact, and to ensure that work is kept on progress.
- Stakeholders will also be invited to participate in collaborative workshops that will be held in different locations to accommodate different teams.
- HMPO already operate a major transformation programme assured by the Independent Programme Authority
- This programme includes both in-house agile design and development of major inhouse systems and specification led commercial procurement of external services.
- This discovery will be subject to same governance structures and processes which include but are not limited to:
- Management Board scrutiny of initial scope and TOR through delegated sub committee
- Review and approval of designs by the Design Authority whose composition is adjusted to reflect stakeholders agreed in the TOR.
- The project would not be of sufficient size to go the Home Office Portfolio Investment Committee, but would be scrutinised by the relevant HMPO Mission Board through a formal bi-weekly reporting template.
We will look to get support from the Local Digital Collaboration Unit to ensure the approach taken fits with best practices and incorporates ways of working that will benefit a wide range of Local Authorities. In particular any learnings or guidance from previous initiatives will be used to ensure a joined-up approach between the different groups and organisations involved.
We would also look for support from MHCLG. While we expect to gain rich insight from users and councils at a local level, we expect that there will be a lot of insight and learnings from across MHCLG that will be invaluable to shaping the design and implementation of solutions at a national level.