Public Services > Central Government

HMRC opens up on Government Gateway and identity plans

David Bicknell Published 14 February 2017

Department confirms plans to develop a “more agile, flexible and secure set of services, and at lower cost”


HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has begun to outline its plans for transforming the Government Gateway and why it is developing its own identity solution for individuals, businesses and agents.

In a blog , the HMRC programme director responsible for transforming Government Gateway, Mike Howes-Roberts, discussed the department’s plans and why transformation is important for the gateway system.

He said, “Government Gateway has been a critical piece of UK government infrastructure. It has enabled individuals, businesses and agents to prove their identity to use online government services (user authentication), and it’s fundamental to government transformation as digital take-up continues to increase.”

He said the gateway supports 123 live digital services across government and 406 million authentications a year.

Discussing the road ahead, he said nothing immediately will change for users, but looked ahead to when the current Government Gateway service is scheduled to come to an end by March 2018.

From this date, he said, “Government Gateway will be replaced by new solutions, and HMRC is developing its own identity solution for individuals, businesses and agents.” He confirmed that other departments will use GOV.UK Verify for all individual citizen services.

Howes-Roberts said, “There is much the current Government Gateway service does well and we’ll be looking to take forward into a new solution. But we also know we can provide a more agile, flexible and secure set of services, and at lower cost.”

He added, “Yes, it’s big! But it's an undertaking we're prepared for and looking forward to working on. For HMRC, I have to provide a new set of services that will support 53 of the existing 123 services hosted.

“In addition, we’re exploring options around other government departments also using this replacement service. This would be restricted to business and agent-facing services only as Cabinet Office requires all other departments to use GOV.UK Verify: the cross-government service for any citizen-facing services where customers need to prove their identity.”

He concluded by referring to the “great work” DWP and their suppliers have done over many years to develop, build and run the current Gateway service.

“This has provided the stability for us all to launch our new digital services and those numbers just keep on increasing. They have set the bar high but I, for one, am looking forward to what lies ahead over the next 12 months,” he said.

HMRC’s plans have already gained a reaction from those close to the Government Digital Service (GDS). Former GDS leader Stephen Foreshew-Cain said on Twitter that he looked forward to the FoI requests regarding spend controls on how much and since when HMRC has been developing a new ID solution.

HMRC’s post comes a week after Whitehall published a broad transformation strategy that set out the delayed aims for the Government Digital Service (GDS) over the next three years, including ambitions for data sharing and online service take up.

Under the strategy, GDS hopes to expand use of the identity assurance platform to 25 million public sector users by 2020 from just around one million accounts at present.

GOV.UK Verify aims to allow individual users to select one of several pre-chosen companies to perform a check on their identity in order to access online services at a level of assurance (LOA) 2 security standard.

Rob Anderson, principal analyst for central government with GlobalData Public Sector, argued that despite commitments in the Government Transformation Strategy for closer working between GDS and departments, there appeared to be something akin to civil war in central government digital circles.

"This public acknowledgment that HMRC’s Government Gateway replacement will also be the preferred access to its services for individuals as well as businesses and agents could hamper the plans for growth of the Gov.UK Verify platform to 25 million users," he said.

Related articles:

Delayed GDS strategy unveiled in wider Whitehall reform plan

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