Ministry of Justice
The child funeral fund service – now launched
In March 2019 the former Prime Minister announced a new scheme to help with funeral costs for grieving parents who have lost their child.
Under the scheme, parents will no longer have to meet the costs of burials or cremations.
Tight deadlines meant that the team and I had just six weeks to design and launch the service to the public.
While the service applies to funeral directors and cremation and burial providers, this blog post focuses on the journey for parents and friends of the family.
With a six week deadline, we did six things to ensure we could design a simple service as fast as possible.
1. Desk research and third party research
The team shared links to articles, content on funeral director sites and existing content on GOV.UK.
We also contacted bereavement charities and we spoke to the Funeral Expenses Payment team at the Department for Work and Pensions to learn how to effectively communicate with those who have suffered bereavement.
2. End to end journey mapping
We mapped the end to end journey, which helped us to understand the process and spot gaps as a team. We then used the map to prioritise additional tasks like doing more targeted desk research and getting clarification from policy.
3. Getting support from across government
We used the cross government design community to ask questions and get feedback on our designs as early as possible.
4. Using shorthand form syntax
In the early stages of form design there can be a high number of changes to content, flow and order—it’s fluid.
So instead of designing in high fidelity which takes longer, I worked closely with our content designer and researcher using Google Docs. We used shorthand syntax to represent different form controls.
We also used the error templates from the GOV.UK Design System to specify the validation rules and related error messages ready for development.
5. Using Form Builder
MOJ Digital and Technology created the Form Builder platform to let publishers create digital forms easily using the components from the GOV.UK Design System.
Using the platform for this service significantly reduced the time it took to develop and launch our service.
Along the way we raised and fixed various issues with Form Builder to make it even easier for form publishers across MOJ and HMCTS to create other forms in the future.
6. Role play research
In the last 2 weeks we found a small amount of time to test the service with bereavement charities.
We asked participants to act as someone who had lost their child, incurred funeral costs and wanted to make a claim.
We found that participants weren't sure they were eligible for the service or if they could claim for the cost of a nicer urn. So we improved the content to address this.
But overall participants thought the service was fast and simple and were surprised that they didn’t have to provide much information to make a claim.
We launched the service in just 6 weeks which you can see here: https://claim-for-costs-of-a-childs-funeral.forms.justice.gov.uk
Thanks to the team for making this happen in such a short space of time. And thanks to Sonam Sony, Alex Nash and Martin Oliver for helping me write this.
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