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Government gives Verify a stay of execution

27/04/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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The GOV.UK Verify service has been given another two years to live to give the Government Digital Service (GDS) more time to develop its replacement.

Verify logo over computer screen

Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office Julia Lopez MP told Parliament that the move follows the initial pilot for a replacement for the online identity assurance mechanism for public services.

She said that work is well underway and that the Government Digital Service begun the co-design process with services and departments from across government.

“While this new system is being developed, many users and connected government services continue to rely on GOV.UK Verify, as has been the case during the pandemic,” she said.

“The Government has therefore decided to extend the current Verify service, enabling new users to sign up until April 2022 and existing users to sign in until April 2023. During this time the Government will continue to update the House on the progress of our pilot.”

The effective termination date for Verify had previously been set for the autumn of this year, after the Government extended support in March of last year to support the surge in sign-ups for universal credit due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Disappointments

It has been beset by problems and had a disappointingly low take-up by public sector bodies and sign-up by the public since its launch in 2016. The number of identity providers – organisations that provide the initial authentication of individuals – has shrunk from nine to two, and at the most recent count it was used for just 16 central government services.

In March Lopez spoke of a small scale, “discreet pilot” of the new service to create a proof of concept. The goal is to develop a successor both to Verify and other digital identity systems used in government.

She said this week that the purpose of the new service will be to “enable people to find and access government services more quickly, allow citizens to prove their identity only once – without needing to re-enter information multiple times - and protect people’s privacy throughout”.

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

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