Matt Hancock highlights identity assurance service as he emphasises the importance of digital in meeting savings targets
A government minister has said there has already been significant use of the GOV.UK Verify identity assurance channel for some online services.
Minister for the Cabinet Office Matt Hancock said in a speech at the Institute of Government that it was used by 10,000 people for filing a self-assessment tax return this year.
“Earlier this year 10,000 people used it at the last minute to file a self-assessment tax return,” he said. “I signed up myself, on my phone, in a car between meetings, using just my passport and the contents of my wallet.
“This approach means Verify is growing organically, like the best web services. No big national launch, no minister pulling a big switch; just users feeding back, service managers making incremental changes and a service that keeps on improving.”
Although the figure is tiny in relation to the total number of people using self-assessment, it does indicate that there is a significant number of early adopters ready to use the service, which involves using one of nine certified companies to carry out checks and confirm that a service user has provided the correct identity.
Up and running
A significant feature of the speech was that Hancock spoke of Verify as a service that is now up and running, although his words point to an incremental, low key implementation of the live services.
An update published last week by the programme’s head of engagement and policy, Janet Hughes, said that for 13 services it is in beta phase – under which they are still being tested – and for 25 in all it is scheduled to go fully live in April of next year.
Hancock also threw the spotlight onto Verify as an example of one of the government’s three principles in developing digital services – empathy with customer needs.
The other two principles are curiosity about what works, which he claimed has been absent in the past, and openness to ideas, experimentation, failure and data. He related the latter to the open data campaign, stating there are now more than 20,000 datasets on data.gov.uk and describing it as a “digital glasnost”.
He also emphasised the importance of feedback from the public in spotting problems and prioritising services with the most users and highest levels of dissatisfaction.
Hancock used the speech to reiterate the government’s claims that an increased emphasis on digital services will help to make it possible to deliver the savings demanded by the forthcoming Spending Review while improving the quality of public services.
Update: The following day Janet Hughes reported that there are now 300,000 users of Verify.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0