Public Services > Central Government

GDS mulls ‘basic ID accounts’ potential for online services

Neil Merrett Published 14 July 2015

Analysis underway to determine future of special accounts to allow access to “low-risk” online services for those unable to use GOV.UK Verify


The Government Digital Service (GDS) has completed trials of 'basic identity accounts' designed to allow users unable to successfully prove their identity though the GOV.UK Verify ID assurance platform to still perform some "low-risk" tax credit tasks online.

Janet Hughes, head of GDS' Identity Assurance Programme, said that the results from a four week trial were now being analysed to decide on how a basic identity account may be offered to individuals unable to use GOV.UK Verify, as well as determining what sort of services it might support.

Currently in public beta, GOV.UK Verify aims to allow users to select one of several pre-chosen companies to perform a check on their identity, rather than relying on a single government-owned database, with a view to supporting around 30 online services from 2016.

As work continues to develop the ID assurance platform from a beta to a live service, Hughes said GDS was considering whether to allow use of basic identity accounts at all, or to provide them as a specific service.

"The aim of the trial was to investigate whether basic identity accounts could help people whose identity couldn't be fully verified using GOV.UK Verify, or who were accessing services that don't require their identity to be verified to the level of assurance provided by GOV.UK Verify verified identity accounts," she said.

According to GDS, individuals wishing to use GOV.UK Verify to prove their identity are required to have been living in the UK for over a year, be over 19 years of age, own a photocard driving licence or passport and also have access to their financial records.

In cases where users are unable to meet these requirements to verify their identity, basic accounts have been offered during a four week test period for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC's) online services to renew tax credits or register for marriage allowance. Once a basic account is established, HMRC then asks a user some security questions in order to provide access to the tax credit service.

In using a basic identity account, users are able to perform tasks like confirming their existing details are correct, or save a form and return to complete it later.

With development of the ID assurance platform ongoing, Hughes has previously warned that the range of evidence presently used to assure identity through the platform was the "main constraint" to further take up of GOV.UK Verify.

As part of efforts to try and expand this range of data, GDS this year finalised a second identity provider framework designed to appoint a wider number of private suppliers to carry out identity checks to support Verify. In March, the number of contracted identity providers was expanded from five to nine companies, with Barclays, PayPal, GB Group, Morpho and Royal Mail joining the revised framework, alongside existing suppliers Experian, Digidentity, Verizon and the Post Office. Mydex, which had also been included in the first identity provider framework, was not included in the new agreement, despite continuing to work with the Cabinet Office around attribute exchange and data sharing.

At present, only the Post Office, Digidentity, Experian and Verizon are certified to support GOV.UK Verify, with the additional five contractors expected to gain the required accreditation at a later date.

Based on the latest performance figures for GOV.UK Verify, the rate of authentication success - detailing the proportion of users successfully proving their identity though a certified company - ranged between 86% and 84% over the last month. This rate was up from around 60% during the middle of May, according to the same figures.

However, the service's 'authentication completion rate' - which looks at the proportion of visits to GOV.UK verify with a successful outcome in terms of user sign-in or account creation - was recorded at 38% for the week ending July 12, 2015.

From May 31 onwards, the authentication completion rate for GOV.UK Verify has ranged between 25% and 42%.

Related articles:

Ministers will decide Government as a Platform service direction

GOV.UK Verify potential in focus as private sector talks begin

Barclays and PayPal to support GOV.UK Verify

Identity Assurance service to expand supplier pool

We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.