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CAP services – at the vanguard

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We talk to Ian Trenholm, Senior Responsible Officer for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Delivery Programme, as he hands over to Dr Norma Wood; about both the programme’s progress and his views on online services.

Ian emphasises how the hard work behind the scenes is paying off as delivery remains on track for the new online application and payment service. The CAP Information Service is one of 25 Cabinet Office digital exemplars. It may have one of the more modest number of customers, but it is ambitious in its aim to bring the current mix of 40 schemes and services into one, replacing the whole technology stack, in order to create a far better experience for CAP customers.

To deliver an easy to use service, Defra are frequently testing it with users and making changes based on that feedback. As one of the government’s digital leaders, Ian is an advocate for such iterative approaches to IT development, explaining that it helps to address the challenges brought by late-forming and complex CAP policy.

Ian is positive about the move to a new registration which will generate customers a reusable digital identity for other government services.  Unlike Government Gateway, which customers told us was difficult to use, the new approach is at the vanguard of internet security and will be consistent across government and has the potential to roll out further into other non-government services where high trust digital transactions are needed.

On the challenge of farming communities accessing online services, Ian counters that rural broadband roll out is now accelerating, alongside technology such as satellite broadband and 4G taking over traditional fixed line connections. He notes the importance, particularly in rural communities, of access to joined up online services and systems to help people stay connected and run their businesses. Thinking back 15 years, Ian reflects, people questioned the justification for paying more for broadband, why would we want a faster connection? Now we are seeing fresh demand for access to other data-driven systems and services, which is in turn is creating a new market for mobile broadband providers to supply in areas such as social care, remote operation of buildings, etc.

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