Credit: GDS /CC BY 2.0
The government is expected to spend around Â£ 11million per year to keep the GOV.UK Verify identity assurance platform operational until April 2023.
All public funding for the service was to cease in March 2020, with responsibility for its further development to be transferred at that time to the tool’s commercial identity provider partners. However, as the majority of those partners began to sever their ties to the platform – and with huge demands placed on Verify by the surge in universal credit demands brought on by the coronavirus crisis – the government stepped in to continue. to finance the product until at least. September 2021.
It was recently announced that support for new service registrations will continue for an additional six months beyond – until April 2022. Existing users can then continue to access the service for another year, until April. 2023.
In a recent letter to Public Accounts Committee Chairperson Meg Hillier, Cabinet Office Permanent Secretary Alex Chisholm said Â£ 11million of government money was being spent to maintain Verify throughout the year 2021/22.
âAs is currently the case, the majority of Verify costs will continue to be paid by the Cabinet Office, without the amount we charge departments to use the service to change during this fiscal year,â he said. -he declares. “We continue to manage costs and reduce them where possible, resulting in lower costs for the taxpayer from the peak of Â£ 40million in 2017/18.”
The pursuit of Verify runs alongside work being done by the government’s digital service to develop GOV.UK accounts. This is designed to replace not only Verify and other similar tools, but what the government is currently claiming is a patchwork of around 100 separate ways of logging in to access various services across departments.
âGOV.UK Verify is just one of many digital identity systems in use across government,â Chisholm said. âTaken together, the government’s fragmented digital identity solutions are costly, redundant and frustrating for citizens as they have to create separate connections for each department and deliver the same information to government over and over again. Many unconnected systems also make it more difficult for the government to identify fraud and reduce errors. “
The Chief of the Cabinet Office, who is also Director of Civil Service Operations, said the November expenditure review saw HM Treasury provide GDS with Â£ 21million to support the initial stages of development of the new platform -connection form.
“[This will] enable GDS to create a pilot system as the first step in an ambitious government-wide single sign-on and digital identity assurance system, as well as Â£ 11million to continue running Verify in 2021/22 in order to minimize the risk of disruption to connected users and services during the transition to the future system. “
Since launching five years ago, Verify has had lukewarm adoption across government, with just around 20 services using the platform. The new GOV.UK account system “is being built with the lessons of Verify in the front and center,” Chisholm said.
âIt is being co-designed and built in close collaboration with the main departments, and under the strong supervision of the IPA (Infrastructure and Projects Authority) and a dedicated ministerial group, co-chaired by the chief secretary of the Treasure. [Steve Barclay] and Minister Julia Lopez, Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Cabinet Office.