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Cabinet Office trials personal accounts for GOV.UK

23/09/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

A trial has been announced for people to create personal accounts on the Government’s GOV.UK website.

70 Whitehall sign

The Cabinet Office said this is aimed at making it easier for users to find services they need and save them from repeatedly providing the same details such as names and addresses.

The trial – which is due to begin at the end of October and run for three months – will also enable them to say how they want their data to be used and get the necessary safeguards in place.

Cabinet Office Minister Julia Lopez said: “People expect a modern and efficient service when they log on to GOV.UK and allowing people to set up their own accounts will make finding services and interacting with the Government much easier.

“I know how annoying it can be to have to input the same information into a website several times or fail to get an important update because you haven’t registered for a particular alert – having a GOV.UK account will prevent that.”

The Cabinet Office said the move is designed to bring GOV.UK in line with other services, such as shopping, banking and entertainment websites, which allow people to log in to them to provide tailored services.

Head of GOV.UK Jen Allum said people who do not want an account will still be able to access all services.

GOV.UK was created in 2012 to replace 2,000 separate central government websites, since when it has had more than 20 billion views. An average of approximately 5 million users now access the site every day.

Pipeline plans

Changes have been in the pipeline for some time, with Allum having highlighted plans to develop a more proactive on the site at the Cabinet Office Sprint event a year ago.

She has reiterated the point in a blogpost, saying the Government Digital Service team behind GOV.UK wants to proactively offer information and services to users based on the details they have provided. It is also aiming to link services to make user journeys simpler.

Allum said a number of experiments are planned to test functions, see what works for users, and identify any issues around privacy and security at an early stage.

“This vision is ambitious and, like everything we build on GOV.UK, we want to develop it iteratively so that we can learn about what works for users as we scale up,” she said, adding:

“You might ask whether people really interact with GOV.UK enough to warrant this kind of investment. We’re validating our figures further on this, but we believe that current interaction with GOV.UK is equivalent to everyone in the UK visiting at least 22 times per year - nearly twice per month. A number that is only going to grow as digital interactions with government increase.”

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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