Tell Us Once (TUO)

  • - Ongoing

    United Kingdom

The Tell Us Once (TUO) service makes it possible for citizens in the United Kingdom to inform the government just once of a birth or death of a person without having to contact responsible authorities individually. Since 2011, the service is offered by most local authorities on behalf of the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Public administrations re-use the data provided by the citizen which follows the guidelines of the once-only principle.  

How does it work?

In order to notify the birth or death of a person to local authorities, the DWP provides three different channels for citizens: online, telephone, or face-to-face. 44 local authorities (LA) in England, Wales and Scotland take part in this initiative to offer 24 core services to the citizens by using Tell Us Once. In the TUO service, citizens provide the data of a birth or death once to the DWP, which then re-uses this data by notifying local and central government authorities such as UK passport services and LA Council Housing services. The authorities in return do not ask the citizen again about these data. In case of a death of a person, for example, the TUO service will cancel benefits provided by the DWP or by the local council (housing benefits, council tax benefits etc.). The local council will also remove that person from the electoral register and inform all other council housing services.

On a technical level, the verified data is held on a single IT application designed, administered and owned by DWP. With consent, the information is shared securely with other relevant departments and authorities. The change of information is then processed by the authorities as if the citizen had contacted them directly.

The Tell Us Once (TUO) program is an example of the implementation of the once-only principle for citizens in the United Kingdom as citizens only provide data once and public administration bodies then re-use and share this data internally which reduces the administrative burden.

What are the benefits and challenges?

From a financial standpoint, the costs and benefits analysis of the Tell Us Once found that the total cost of the implementation is expected to be around £ 111.03 million over 10 years, whereas the benefits on the same period are estimated to amount at £ 43.4 million. Although the TUO proved to originate higher costs than benefits, it has been included among the once-only principle best practices anyhow (Source). This selection is based on the fact that TUO is part of eGovernment Strategy in the United Kingdom, aimed to make all communications and transactions between government and citizens digital. Therefore, the TUO impact should not be considered apart, but within the whole impact of the eGovernment Strategy.

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