Change is inevitable.

Contending with multi-dimensional, time critical change can be extremely difficult.  But for public service workers, adapting to and delivering this kind of change on a national scale is a tough, but necessary, responsibility.

The dizzying transition from in-person relationships to digital resulting from the pandemic created a national-scale change imperative for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).  When the welfare and employment status of millions of citizens in the UK was suddenly impacted by the pandemic, or services that were previously facilitated by human interaction needed to be digitally connected, the department had to swiftly deliver technological changes to respond to the needs of the nation. Having a modernised and transformed approach to integration enabled DWP to deliver multi-system change at scale and speed.

DWP is responsible for allocating welfare benefits, pensions and a range of other critical support services to millions of households in the UK. It is one of the largest UK government departments, and through its service delivery arm DWP Digital operates several critical national systems and infrastructure to ensure highly available, responsive and efficient services are provided to its customers.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the department was processing millions of claims and contacts a day using multiple digital and non-digital customer engagement channels. 

Lockdown restrictions eliminated in-person customer support channels overnight, leading to a sudden increase in demand on DWP Digital’s IT systems and digital engagement channels. Millions of citizens turned to the department’s online channels for support, resulting in an influx of digital claims and enquiries. This rapid increase in digital engagement highlighted the criticality of DWP Digital’s integration technology estate, both from today’s operational perspective and from a future-ready digital enablement perspective. As a result, DWP Digital needed to accelerate the modernization of its integration approach and technology landscape.

Customer information and interaction data has historically been dispersed among a mixture of service-specific applications that spanned mainframes, midrange platforms and cloud-hosted services. To rapidly redefine and deliver new support services, the department needed integration capabilities that enabled it to connect the information stored in these distributed applications quickly, efficiently, securely and iteratively.

To help overhaul the integration IT infrastructure and applications underpinning its citizen-facing services, DWP Digital sought help from IBM Consulting™.

Ensures seamless payment of over

GBP 200 billion annually

to millions of citizens

Supported provisioning of emergency support to

5 million

unemployed or furlough-effected households

Enabled decrease in processing time from

weeks to hours

for new claims

Building a new legacy from legacy systems

IBM Consulting is a trusted partner, technology consultant and integration domain expert for DWP Digital and has worked alongside the organization to support several of its successful transformation programs in the past. This experience-based expertise made IBM Consulting the ideal choice to help deliver DWP’s next accelerated integration modernization effort.

IBM Consulting helped DWP Digital move some of its critical integration applications onto a single modern platform, reducing redundant technologies and enabling seamless, independent connectivity of applications in support of old and new business processes.

“Building systems in silos wasn’t productive. We needed to set up a single source of truth for common data like addresses, relationships and banking information,” says Jacqui Leggetter, the Head of Integration (Deputy Director) for DWP Digital.

Portrait of owner standing with hand on hip at antique shop

IBM Consulting helped set this new integration in motion by providing expert resources to deliver an enterprise API gateway solution, alongside development and delivery of microservices and APIs that enable information to be shared between DWP applications and across government departments.  

Adopting an API-first integration pattern enabled DWP Digital’s objective of building new microservices-based digital solutions. It also gave DWP the flexibility to build and integrate new services into its application estate without disrupting overall functionality or business operations. The API gateway solution enables DWP Digital to control, monitor and manage how information is published, consumed and managed by individual micro-services and entire applications.

The new architecture also allows customer experiences to be analyzed and enhanced through reusable components rather than building from scratch every time. For example, instead of requiring customers to engage with multiple services, the new integration capabilities enable them to interact with one service line, automatically and seamlessly sharing information and actions across multiple services.    

As Leggetter notes, “IBM Consulting has helped us build a platform that enables us to share the data we need securely and accurately, across the various policy-based silos in DWP Digital and other government departments.”

Readying the UK for a digital future

Today, DWP Digital’s modern integration services enable secure, intelligent data-sharing across different services and departments.

The department’s modernized integration architecture has helped automate critical steps in the claim verification process, limiting in-person contact and accelerating approvals. APIs are used by Universal Credit to automatically verify the data from a citizen’s application, helping eliminate technical redundancies and improve upon manual verification process timelines.

With optimized applications, data-driven architectures and API-enabled integration, DWP Digital has been able to improve its claims and approvals processes, providing greater accuracy, flexibility and information security than ever before.

DWP Digital has also seen an increase in data reuse across product teams and government departments. This saves time and allows government to deliver citizen-focused applications much faster.

“The most important outcome from this integration has been helping our citizens get back on their feet,” says Leggetter. “Now, 5 million+ UK households are receiving the support they need during and after the pandemic, while removing non-value and manual processing enables our employees to focus their efforts on higher value actions such as supporting citizens back into paid work.”

Department for Work and Pensions logo

About the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) 

DWP (link resides outside of is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy in the UK. The department administers the State Pension and a range of other health and financial benefits to about 20 million citizens.

Solution component

IBM Consulting™

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