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HMRC plans extra authentication channel

25/05/16

Department says Government Gateway replacement for businesses and agents to run alongside GOV.UK Verify

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is setting up an online authentication service to run alongside GOV.UK Verify, aimed at people who struggle to use the channel created by the Government Digital Service (GDS) that went live this week.

HMRC_shotIn a move that raises questions about limitations of the Government as a Platform programme, and the duplication of work in creating services, the department has said it is not an alternative to Verify and suggested it will serve different users.

It follows a report in The Channel that HMRC is working on its own authentication portal to replace the Government Gateway, which is due to be decommissioned in 2018. This has included claims that senior staff believe that Verify works too slowly and will struggle to handle some processes.

A spokesperson for HMRC said: “HMRC has no plans to build an alternative to GOV.UK Verify, which we recognise as the strategic solution for individuals to safely and securely access government services.

“Verify is built for individuals. Businesses and agents will continue to use Government Gateway to access online services and there are no plans to migrate these customers to Verify.

“We know that Verify doesn’t work for all our customers yet. To make sure that everyone who wants to use digital services is able to, we’ve put in place a complementary service for those customers struggling to get online, which is based on Government Gateway but with an added two-step verification process and identity check to further strengthen security.”

Improvements

He added that the new version of the Government Gateway will include improvements in its security, design and usability, and that HMRC is working with the Department for Work and Pensions and other users on when to move to the new service.

“The replacement service will continue to support business and agent users into the future,” he said.

HMRC accounts for five of the 10 services that have been using Verify in beta and were identified as ready for the formal ‘go live’ yesterday: checking income tax for the current year; signing in to a personal tax account; signing in and filing self-assessment returns; helping friends and family with their tax; and checking or updating company car tax.

Verify is the most advanced element of the Government as a Platform programme, which involves the development of online services that can be used throughout central government and beyond. But HMRC’s move suggests that even earlier adopters have reservations about its about its ability to meet the demands of different groups of customers.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said the move is not regarded as being in conflict with the GDS’s work on Verify.

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

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