A GOVERNMENT Minister has praised the success of a new scheme helping Wearsiders cope with some of the happiest and saddest times of their lives – and plans to roll it out across the country.
Immigration Minister Damian Green visited Sunderland’s customer service, in Fawcett Street, to witness mum Jacqueline Hudson register the birth of her baby Eve Hudson.
The new system – called Tell Us Once – means information on birth and death registrations is shared across council and Government departments, meaning families are not lumbered with constant form filling at difficult times.
Sunderland City Council is a flagship authority for the new service, which is due to go live across the country by the end of the year.
Mr Green said: “Civil registration plays a key part in everyone’s lives. We all come into contact with it and it provides a memorable, personal record that will be preserved for future generations.
“I am very impressed by the work of the front-line staff here in Sunderland to improve the experience of their customers.”
He added: “It’s been very successful here and we want to roll it out nationally because it’s clear people want these services.”
Mr Green said the scheme meant anyone registering a birth would see the details automatically sent to organisations handling the many different types of benefits, as well as library services and family information services.
A similar action is carried out when registering a death.
Mr Green said it would save taxpayers money by helping to tackle fraud and identity theft.
Mrs Hudson, 37, of Penshaw, who works for a renewable energy company, said the Tell Us Once service would be a big help to new parents.
The mum, who lives with husband David, 41, and son Ethan, five, was registering the birth of Eve, who was born on January 21 weighing 7lb 14oz.
“I think it’s a good idea and it will make it a lot easier,” she said. “I had my child benefit done today as part of the service.”
Mr Green heard how the council has brought together bereavement and registration services under one roof, and was shown around the newly-refurbished Registration and Bereavement Services Unit at Sunderland Civic Centre.
Council chief executive Dave Smith said: “We were pleased to welcome the Minister to our city, and to have this opportunity to show him the results of our work as one of the lead local authorities in looking at innovation within Registration services.”
The Minister was accompanied by Sarah Rapson, Registrar General for England and Wales.