Engage app platform Capita supports vulnerable adults

24 June 2015 Consultancy.uk

Consulting firm Capita has developed an engage app platform for Fortunatus Housing Solutions, to be used by the housing charity for its newly developed app. The platform allows the non-profit organisation to develop the app and populate it with news, information on events, ways to donate and other details.

Fortunatus Housing Solutions is a UK housing charity based in the North West. The not-for-profit organisation provides housing solutions for vulnerable adults in the community, including those with mental health problems and/or learning disabilities.

To further support its residents, Fortunatus Housing Solutions recently launched a new app, which offers information to Fortunatus’ residents and the wider community about local news, fundraising events, ways to donate and details of other support agencies. The app will make use of a new platform developed by consulting firm Capita’s software services business. The so-called ‘engage app platform’ provides Fortunatus with a complete browser-based management console and allows it to develop, populate and deploy its mobile app.

Capita designs app platform for Fortunatus Housing Solutions

“We are always looking for better ways to communicate with our residents, for whom accurate information about local activities and services is an essential lifeline,” explains Catherine Nicholson, Managing director of Fortunatus Housing Solutions. “Capita’s app platform is a great way of helping us do that. Not only does it offer us a great deal of choice about what information we give and how we pass it on to our residents, it also tells them how they can find out more from us and how to access services”.

Paul Millard, Operations Director at Capita's Software Services Business, adds: “Fortunatus’ residents need easy access to relevant information, whether that’s advice on how to access services, contact details for local support groups, or simply find out about fun activities coming up. We will continue to work closely with Fortunatus to ensure their app provides that link for residents in a timely, efficient and effective way.” 

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EU settled status application system branded 'shambles'

28 January 2019 Consultancy.uk

A Government mobile phone app designed by a team of consultancies has been pilloried by frustrated users, who fear its poor accessibility means they may lose their legal status to live and work in the UK after Brexit. With the settled status system having been labelled a ‘shambles’, critics are concerned that thousands of the 3.5 million EU citizens due to apply could lose their residence rights overnight.

In the latter stages of 2018, an expose by Buzzfeed News declared that at the time, the UK Government had signed up to more than a dozen consulting contracts on the matter of Brexit, worth around £40 million. The online news provider went on to assert that the bulk of this figure was being spent on a new ‘settled status’ scheme for EU citizens living in Britain. While it is unclear whether the figure of £75 million which this consulting spend has since ballooned to includes the same portion devoted towards settled status solutions, either way, it has undoubtedly consumed significant public funds.

Further back, in May 2018, as the debate as to what kind of deal will be made for EU nationals residing in the UK – not to mention UK nationals residing in the EU – raged on, the UK Government tapped a collective of five consulting firms to develop an immigration app, designed to register EU citizens living in the UK post-2019. Accenture, BJSS, Capgemini, Deloitte Digital and Worldreach were commissioned to develop the platform that will ultimately be used by millions of EU citizens to apply for settled status.

EU settled status application system branded 'shambles'

The resulting app has since launched, and has been broadly met with condemnation from both users, and immigration experts, who have warned that the settled status scheme as a whole threatens to become the Government’s next ‘Windrush Scandal’. That particular episode saw people who arrived in the UK some 50 years ago wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and, in around 63 cases, wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office, who had previously destroyed records of their legal arrival under the stewardship of then-Home Secretary Theresa May.

An estimated 3.5 million EU citizens in the UK now need to apply to stay after March 29th 2019, and warnings have already been issued that thousands of people could be left without legal status if applications are not processed quickly and efficiently. Despite this stark forecast, the app which was eventually developed and launched by the consultancies is incompatible with a broad range of devices. The Settled Status app only works on devices using Android 6.0, which was introduced in October 2015, meaning older Android phones which have not updated cannot use it, while it does not function on Apple devices at all.

Speaking to UK news site Metro.co.uk, Tord Nilson, who runs a digital marketing agency and managed to navigate the process, said, “I am still waiting to hear back but it’s really frustrating to have to prove that I belong here. One of the questions is even “Where were you born?”… I am still waiting to hear if I can stay and the whole thing is very upsetting and frustrating. We are in limbo. It’s a shambles and there will be 3.5 million people to process. There’s no hope in hell this will work out.”

New Windrush

For EU citizens looking to apply, Settled Status requests can also be input manually, at one of 13 document scanning locations across the country – potentially at great expense or distance. Worse still, however the IT system which local authorities have been using at these locations has also routinely failed. As a result, a large number of frustrated would-be-applicants have already taken to social media to say they were delaying their applications until teething problems had been ironed out.

Home Office officials expect they can process about 6,000 applications a day, but the technical issues could lead to a rush of later applicants before the deadline, which they would likely not be able to handle. Critics have also suggested that even when it works, the app and IT system might be difficult to navigate, especially for older or vulnerable citizens, and there could be technical difficulties matching names and official records.

Jill Rutter, Programme Director for Better Policy Making at the Institute for Government said of the scenario, “The Home Office must invest in getting the EU settlement scheme right from the start. Failure to do so could cause massive problems in years to come, on a far bigger scale than the Windrush Scandal. The stakes are high. Get it right and the UK sends a strong message that EU citizens are welcome and the Government is in control. Get it wrong and the consequences are dire.”

Chai Patel, Legal Policy Director at the Joint Council for Welfare of Immigrants, meanwhile told the Guardian, “EU citizens who do not pay to apply for settled status by 2021 will lose their right to live in the UK and become undocumented… With 3 million to 4 million people needing to register, that means creating tens or hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants overnight. The poor, the elderly, [and] those with illnesses or disabilities will be particularly affected as the government is failing to set aside enough resources to help them.”