GOV.UK Verify local toolkit launched as pilot enters alpha

Written by Rebecca Hill on 3 March 2017 in News

The local authority pilot of the government’s identity assurance programme has moved from discovery to alpha.

The local Verify pilots are looking at parking permits - Photo credit:

GOV.UK Verify, which went live in May 2016, lets people to register just once to access to a range of government services by allowing certified companies, such as the Post Office and Barclays, to verify their identities online.

The service is currently only available for central government services, with just 1.13 million registered accounts, but the government wants to have 25 million people registered on it by 2025.

As part of plans to expand Verify, the Government Digital Service has been working with 19 local authorities to trial the service for local government service.

The first two pilots – concessionary travel passes for older people and residential parking permits – were launched in the summer last year and have now moved from the discovery phase into alpha.

The teams aim to improve the common prototype for both services through user testing in the alpha phase, and councils will be able to build their test and development environments.

Once all the prototypes have met the service standard, and council tech teams have shown they can configure their services effectively and securely, the private beta will be launched.

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GDS has also released the details of the discovery phase for the pilots, along with tools for user research, service design and technical guidance developed during the process that councils can use to build digital services.

They include a user research toolkit, templates for councils to use to map user journeys, business processes and the technical components of existing services and common, downloadable prototypes for both the services in the pilot.

There is also a draft document to help councils “understand how Verify can enable digital service transformation”, which GDS said it would welcome more input from councils on.

Towards the end of last month, Warwickshire County Council, which was one of the first to start piloting Verify at a local level, announced it had moved into private beta for a separate pilot of renewal of Blue Badges.

This pilot focuses on making better use of data held by one part of government – GDS said that poor communication between departments or agencies is a source of particular frustration for users – and assess how online eligibility checks can be used to securely share information quickly.

Around 250 existing blue badge holders in Warwickshire have been invited to try the service and will run from three months from March 2017 – it is only for people who need to renew their badges and have previously received qualifying benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions.

Users will be asked to give explicit permission for the council to check their eligibility against online data provided by DWP, which will be used to check if they are still eligible for a blue badge.

The GOV.UK Verify team is also aiming to increase the number of users on registering by expanding the number of central government services using Verify by focusing on those that need less proof of identity from users.

Because services are not one-size-fits-all, some services don’t need the high levels of security that Verify provides and using Verify would make the user journey longer and unnecessarily complicated.

GDS is working with departments to develop changes to the processes that will allow other services to use Verify.

This issue has been identified as one of the reasons that HMRC has chosen not to use Verify for verifying the identity of businesses that need to pay tax – a process that requires less proof of identity than services that involve the government paying people.

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