Discretionary grant application
An online application for small businesses to apply for COVID grant funds.
On 13th May 2020 the government announced an extension to the business grant scheme to support businesses who were excluded from the original scheme. The new Discretionary Grant was to be administered by local authorities, who were given the discretion to determine eligibility for it.
The Digital and Data Team were initially advised of the grant and the need for an online application on Monday 18th May, with a proposed sign-off by committee on 29th May of the eligibility criteria. The goal was to have the online application live to the public 3 days later on Monday 1st June 2020.
Key project details
1 day to build the initial form
2 days to build scoring functionality
963 applications received
Supporting the community
Distributing money to local businesses quickly.
With the government announcement that additional funds were available to support smaller local businesses, it was essential that we were able to respond quickly to produce an online solution. The timeline given by central government meant that the Digital and Data Team only had a few days from receipt of the requirements to a live launch. But it wasn't only the online form which had to be produced quickly. It was also critical that staff and external partners were able to assess and respond to applications within a week of the submissions.
The importance of digital architecture
If we hadn't invested time over the past 12 months to create a modular BHCC architecture, we wouldn't have been able to respond in time to meet the requirement.
The solution incorporated the reuse of the Contact Management application, combined with a Drupal form to capture the information. We were able to build the Drupal form within a day and make further service-led changes prior to launch.
We worked closely with the service to create a form which incorporated structured questions which could be automatically scored, based on the applicant's response to a question.This reduced the time that staff needed to spend on each application and meant that applications were assessed fairly and money was distributed quickly to those most in need.
The integration with Contact Management enabled multiple staff users to log into a secure application and process 963 applications within a short period of time.
We are extremely happy with the service provided by IT&D in designing, creating, launching and supporting a new case management system for the distribution of grant funds to business. Working to a tight time frame and with guidance that was still emerging from government the Digital & Data Product team were able to distil our many requirements into a system that was easy to navigate even for those with minimal IT experience.
The front end was clear and appropriate for the audience and the metrics gathered within the system could be downloaded easily into spreadsheets allowing for data searches by range of indicators. The team that supported the work were knowledgeable patient and ready to help which made the whole process less stressful for all concerned. I have no hesitation in recommending them to others or working with them in the future. I was very impressed.
963 applications received and scored within days.
By launching the public-facing form initially and then creating and adding the scoring functionality over the next few days, we were able to introduce the application form quickly, as well as providing staff and partner organisations with a secure system to review and quickly score the applications.
The automated scoring solution saved the service time not having to manually score each field. It also reduced the possibility of manual errors being introduced into the system and provided a more objective eligibility solution.