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GOV.UK Verify

GOV.UK Verify: February update on progress towards objectives for live

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We are planning to take GOV.UK Verify from beta to live in April. Last year, we introduced some objectives explaining what we aim to achieve by the time we move from beta to live. This post gives an update on our progress.

Readiness for services to adopt GOV.UK Verify

‘Readiness’ means that by April 2016, all central government services (and those devolved in Wales and Northern Ireland) that need to adopt GOV.UK Verify, are able to do so.

We’re working with 50 government services and 10 departments altogether to plan their adoption of GOV.UK Verify. Most services will join, and start phasing out their existing ways for people to prove their identity, once we have gone from beta to live in April. We currently expect about 15 services to be ready to start using GOV.UK Verify by the time we go from beta to live, with the remainder of the 50 services in our pipeline coming on board after we go from beta to live. We’re on track to be ready to meet that demand.

There are now 13 government services from 5 departments connected to GOV.UK Verify, with 9 available as public beta services. We’ve developed a staged process for services that want to use GOV.UK Verify, and we’re constantly developing that so that it’s as clear as possible to services what they will need to do, and any new needs arising from new services adopting GOV.UK Verify are understood early on so we can meet them in time.

90% Demographic Coverage

90% demographic coverage by live means 90% of the overall UK adult population should be able to use GOV.UK Verify, and 90% of people expected to use GOV.UK Verify to access each service in our pipeline should be able to do so.

Michael posted recently to share our detailed work to understand and expand GOV.UK Verify’s demographic coverage. GOV.UK Verify’s demographic coverage is 80% now (up from 65% in March) because of new methods and data sources giving people a wider range of ways to prove their identity. We’re on track to hit our 90% target by April 2016.

90% Success Rate

The success rate measures success vs failure among those who set up an account and try to verify their identity with a GOV.UK Verify certified company.

Like demographic coverage, the success rate of GOV.UK Verify depends on certified companies offering a wide range of high quality, straightforward ways for people to use GOV.UK Verify.

The success rate has almost doubled since the start of our public beta, mainly because of changes and improvements the certified companies have made to their services.

Over the next 2 months, as new certified companies join the service and existing companies improve their services under the new contractual framework, we expect to see further improvements to the success rate. We’re on track to hit our target for live of 90% success.

Graph showing GOV.UK Verify success rate over time
Graph showing GOV.UK Verify success rate over time

Everyone can use GOV.UK Verify to access government services

This target involves offering people who can’t verify their identity another way to access digital government services. This is already in place - there are always other ways to access services for people to access services if GOV.UK Verify is not yet able to verify their identity or they’re not able to use digital services independently. However, we’ve also been thinking about how GOV.UK Verify might be developed to give people a way of accessing services without proving their identity, and whether that should be part of our service offering.

Last year, we carried out a trial of basic identity accounts, which are one possible way of giving people access to services when it’s not possible to verify their identity online through GOV.UK Verify.

We’re not planning to re-introduce basic accounts before we go from beta to live in April, but we’re working with departments to assess whether there’s a future role for basic accounts, and if so what that might look like. We’ll post here when we have further news to share about our work in this area.

A range of high quality certified companies

There are now 4 certified companies available for users to choose from: Digidentity, Experian, Post Office and Verizon. There are 5 more on the new commercial framework we signed last year -  Barclays, GB Group, Morpho, Paypal and Royal Mail.

Certified companies are not allowed to provide services through GOV.UK Verify until they have completed all the contractual gates and met all the requirements in the contract.

We’re continuing to make progress in taking the companies through all 16 gates they need to pass before they can join GOV.UK Verify under the new contractual framework. This process applies to both new and existing certified companies as their services have to be assessed against the requirements of the new framework.

The certified companies have to be certified as meeting the international information security standard ISO27001 (or another equivalent) before they are allowed to join the service, and have approved terms and conditions and privacy policies in place.

Certified companies also have to be independently certified as meeting the required standards for identity proofing and verification. It’s not possible fully to complete that process until a company has provided a live service for a period of time (which can take up to 6 months), so we require certified companies to complete as much of the certification process as can be completed before going live, and then complete the final stage as soon as possible after joining the GOV.UK Verify service.

GOV.UK Verify scaled, resilient and operationally ready for live

We are continuing to develop and improve GOV.UK Verify so that it’s ready to move from beta to live. This includes work to scale the service, continuously iterate and improve it, meet all our accreditation requirements at each stage of our development, and prepare so GOV.UK Verify is ready for operations at a larger scale across a wider range of services.

We’re making good progress and are on track to deliver all the things we need to be able to take the service from beta to live in April.

Preparing for our service standard assessment

Before we go from beta to live, like all digital services we will need to pass a service standard assessment for Live.

We’ve already met many of the 18 points of the Digital by Default Service Standard - for example, our minister Matthew Hancock MP verified his identity in the back of a car travelling between meetings last year (point 18) - but we still have some work to do to meet some of the requirements of the standard. 

If there’s anything in particular you'd like us to include in our next update then let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Comment by Mike posted on

    Really interesting post Janet.

    With c. 6m adults in the UK having never used the internet, combined with the 'thin file' issue, is the 90% demographic coverage target realistic?

    • Replies to Mike>

      Comment by Janet Hughes posted on

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, we think this is a realistic target - Michael blogged recently about how we are going to meet the target:

      However, the target for demographic coverage is about who should be able to use the service given the types of identity evidence they have available and how likely it is that a certified company will be able to validate the evidence and meet the required standards.

      However, as you say, some people without access to the internet might not be able to use digital services even if they theoretically come within our demographic coverage. That's a separate (but very important) issue which we deal with through service design (making the process as straightforward as possible for people) and assisted digital support (help for those who need it to access digital services). Also there are always other ways to access services for people who aren't able to access them online.

      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.


  2. Comment by Felipe posted on

    Just to let you know, at the moment is NOT possible to register for Europeans.
    At some point the web requests you to register your: Uk passport or/and Uk driving license or/and Uk bank account; when you tick the last one(the only one available for foreigners) the registration fails.

    • Replies to Felipe>

      Comment by Rebecca Hales posted on

      There will be some people with overseas addresses who we can't verify, as the relevant databases are not available for the certified companies to check against. However, we do not wish to deter all overseas residents from attempting to verify, as this may exclude many people who could succeed. This is because many overseas residents still have addresses and assets in the UK, there may be sufficient data for some people to verify.

      Certified companies have to work to published government standards when they verify your identity. To do this, they have to look at a range of evidence and checks to establish that you are who you say you are – no single piece of evidence is sufficient. There are five elements involved, and the company has to achieve specific thresholds in each one before they can verify someone’s identity. One of those five elements is your address. Your chosen certified company uses it to find your credit reference file which it then uses to create questions the answer to which only that user is likely to know.

      For those unable to verify due to overseas residency and a lack of data available to the certified companies, this should be established quite early on in the verification process.

      • Replies to Rebecca Hales>

        Comment by Felipe posted on

        Sorry Rebecca I didn't explain myself properly:

        I'm European as I was born overseas. But I've been continuously living in UK and continuously working in the UK for the last 6 years, that makes the status of UK-Resident. So, currently as an UK resident, living and working in UK I wasn't able to register.