Key, locks and now online security from High St shop

Are you a digital ID pioneer?

If you’re using SecureIdentity to access government services online you’re an early adopter of digital identity. Here’s a quick look at how everyday life might change as more people come to understand the benefits of secure digital ID.

Lot’s of people feel familiar with the idea of digital identity because they already do so many things online. They use the internet for: banking, shopping and even socialising. People have up to 27 secure logins that allow them to quickly prove who they are to the companies they regularly do business with.

Digital identity pioneers think differently about ID

This new generation of identity is different. It’s not about being able to prove who you are on a case-by-case basis, one day with your bank the next with your favourite online shopping site. It’s about being able to prove who you are quickly day-in, day-out.

When you have this advanced degree of digital identity it becomes much easier to do lots of important things quickly and easily. But it’s still very new, so sometimes it’s difficult to understand exactly how secure digital identities will improve things.  

Using SecureIdentity to access government services via GOV.UK Verify is an early example of what to expect. Instead of having to register for secure online access to one government service at a time, SecureIdentity lets you access lots of government services using exactly the same process.  But as the idea of digital identity grows what else can we expect to see change?

Timpson holds the key

The High Street retailer Timpson is one company that’s been early to see the potential that this new type of digital identity will bring.

It’s probably not the first name that comes to mind when you think of digital identity services. But when you think about it, Timpson’s customers already go there for their passport pictures and key copies. And if you’re ever unfortunate enough to lock yourself out of your home, Timpson’s is probably the locksmith you trust to get you back in safely. They are the shop you go to for security and keeping things safe.

Over the past few months Timpson has been working with people in the digital identity industry to create and trial lots of the new digital services that citizens will soon need.

This is uncharted territory but founder John Timpson is very clear on how important he feels it is that individuals remain in control of their digital identities. It must be the individual’s choice as to who has access to their secure documents and data. Individuals must be able to share their verified documents easily with the people they want to see them whenever the need arises.

First, Timpson are looking at creating a face-to-face service where branch colleagues will help people through the process of creating their own digital Identity. Timpson believe that about 10% of people would rather go to the High Street to get personal help when they want to create their digital identity. So, as more people want digital identities, Timpson will be there to keep the process simple for those who’d rather not go online alone.

The family lockbox goes online

They’re also mindful that as more of our important documents go digital, people will want a safe place to store them. That’s why they’ve come up with the idea of an online digital vault. It’s a hyper secure online place where we can safely keep the digital versions of things like our birth certificate, marriage licence or mortgage agreement.

Since more of the important documents we’re issued with are going digital everyday, Timpson expects the digital alternative to become more popular. A digital vault will become the alternative to the family lockbox where most people store their important paper documents today.

Over the years, shops like Timpson have always been there to help us manage our everyday security needs. As these needs go digital, it’s only natural that all kinds of retailers start offering new products and services for the digital identity owning citizen.

 

Rural Payments: You can apply now for the Basic Payment Scheme 2017

From early March, farmers will be able to submit their application for the Basic Rural Payment Scheme 2017.

Rural payments made to UK farmers can be quite complex, largely because there is no single type of rural payment and no single agency either.

Devolved services for Scotland, Wales & Ireland don’t go through GOV.UK Verify so if you’re applying for rural payments in these regions you’ll need to use the regional Government sites.

Remember:

  • If you own land in different countries then you have to go through individual schemes to make multiple claims.
  • Different pages will be relevant to you.
  • There is no single scheme that covers all of the UK.

But the Basic Payments Schemes (BPS) is the most popular scheme available to farmers. It’s possibly the biggest subsidy helping farmers today. If you’re holding is in England then the scheme can be accessed using SecureIdentity at the GOV.UK site

Making your claim soon brings some real benefits

Submitting your BPS claim online from this month means the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will be able to make advance part payments to you and you’ll be able to make changes to your application up to 15th May.

Recent enhancements to the way online claims work have ensured that claiming online usually means improved accuracy and reduced risk of a penalty too.  

Get started

You can use this calculator to work out what your BPS entitlement is likely to be. Learn how to access rural payments the easy way, using SecureIdentity.

Last lifeline to avoid a HMRC fine

Quick, quick get moving on filing your self assessment tax form because the deadline is Tuesday 31st January 2017. Last January 2016 some  890,000* individuals filed their return late. There’s a £100 fine for late filing. Submit your tax return on time to avoid having to pay late fines and penalties. No one wants a case of the January blues this month courtesy of HMRC.

There are two ways to get started.

The old way – no haste by post

You can choose to register your account with Government Gateway which many people have already done. The first part of your pin will be revealed online while the other part will be sent to you in the post. This could take days and even up to a whole week.

What if you have a Government Gateway but no password?

You may have used Government Gateway before but having all the access details you need to hand may not be that simple. It’s all too easy to misplace codes and passwords you rarely use.

Instead of getting dizzy trying to remember your identity code or the complicated PIN number, why not use SecureIdentity and GOV.UK Verify to create an online account.

The new way – quick as an app

If you have not created an online account to access government services, you could use SecureIdentity. With us creating an online account will only take 10 to 15 minutes – you could start your self assessment today and file before the 31st January deadline. We are one of 7 certified companies that can verify your identity through GOV.UK Verify

All you need to get started are your main forms of identity (passport, driving licence, bank statements), your smart-phone and the SecureIdentity simple sign-in app. You should be able to create your account in about 10 to 15 mins by answering some questions.

Once you’re verified you can use your SecureIdentity to access other online government services too. Eventually using Verify will be the preferred method of accessing government services at GOV.UK for most people. So by using GOV.UK Verify now you’re saving yourself time later. Over time all government services will be going digital and Government Gateway will be phased out.

So get started on your self assessment form now.

3 really useful tips for filling in your self assessment tax return

Want to save yourself a £100 fine and further penalties by completing your self assessment tax return before the January 31st deadline? We’ve scoured the internet to collate the three essential things you can do now to ease the burden of filing and submit your return in good time. Read on to avoid a filing nightmare and  turn your self assessment tax task into a quick-click affair.

  1. Go online to avoid a fine
    Sadly, you’ve missed the deadline for filing a paper return. This was October 31st so now you’re only option is to create an online account. You have two choices: the old way and the new way.

The Old Way

The old way is to use the Government Gateway. You’ve probably heard of it already. Registering this way can take days because you have to wait for the post to get your access code. But if you’re already registered with Government Gateway and have access to the Self Assessment service, this may be a good route for you.

The New Way

The new, straightforward, quick way to access Self Assessment (and other government services) is to use GOV.UK Verify together with a certified identity provider like SecureIdentity. It takes 10 to 15 minutes. After registration with SecureIdentity you can begin filling in your self assessment tax return immediately.

You’ll need to choose a certified company to verify your identity at GOV.UK Verify. Have your  identity documents to hand (ie: your passport, driving licence and bank statements) and choose SecureIdentity when you’re asked to choose a certified company to verify your identity. There’s no difficult-to-remember passwords and you’re not stuck waiting for something in the post.

Once you’re verified you can use your SecureIdentity to access other online government services too. Eventually everyone will be required to create an online identity to access government services at GOV.UK so by getting one now you’re saving yourself time later. The Government Gateway will eventually become obsolete

  1. Paper preparation eases the declaration
    Another thing you can do to de-stress the whole process is gathering all the relevant documents in advance. Here’s a list of some of the things you’ll need:
  • P60 – if you’re employed this will have all of your end of year figures.
  • P11D or P9D – if your employer has given you extra benefits in addition to your salary, or you have expenses, they must all be declared using these documents.
  • P45 – if you changed jobs during the tax year, your previous employer would have issued this.
  • payslips – to calculate your earnings and check figures against your P60 or P45.
  • receipts – for all the expenses you are claiming for example, business related travel. But be sure that your expenses are HMRC approved.
  • bank statements of your savings accounts – you’ll need them to calculate the interest you earned after being taxed which is you net interest. Also do remember that your ISA income does not need to be declared, it’s tax free.
  • dividends statements – to calculate income received from stocks and/or shares.
  • statements for pension income – to add to your income.

But what if you’ve lost one of the above bits of paper? Here’s what you can do:

  • P60 – you can get a replacement from your employer which will be marked duplicate. Your employer is obliged to keep copies of your P60 for at least the last three years.
  • P11D – again your employer should be able to provide you with a copy or else you can contact the HMRC for a copy.
  • P45 – you can not get a replacement but your new employer may be able to provide you with a ‘Starter Checklist’.
  • payslips – the first place to ask would be your employer but if you get really stuck you can use your bank statement to find the figures for earnings that you received.
  • receipts – this is a grey area, it’s not really advisable to estimate expenses as you really need evidence if you are audited.
  • statements from your bank, pension provider and share or stock organisation – contact the relevant organisation for a copies. But do remember that you may be charged for copies.
  1. Giving is receiving to charity
    Be sure to list all your charitable donations. This is particularly important if you are a higher rate taxpayer because you can reduce your tax bill by offsetting what you have donated. Charitable donations include GiftAid payments and annual memberships of charities such as English Heritage and the National Trust.

Don’t delay, get started today on your self assessment tax return! 

Is your occupation on HMRC’s Self Assessment “watchlist”?

If you’re a dentist, doctor, landlord or private tutor submitting your Self Assessment online this month, you may be under more scrutiny that other professions.

In recent years, the government has developed a super-computer that collates data from key sources. The data helps pinpoint discrepancies in an individual’s Self Assessment tax return and, as a result,  identifies the occupational groups most likely to file late or inaccurate returns.

Doctors and dentists are high on the “watchlist”.  Already HMRC has collected at least £10m in unpaid tax from these professionals by, for instance, using data collected from drug companies, locum agencies and other organisations to spot errors in individual returns.

Landlords also receive this kind of special treatment too. HMRC is actively examining people who rent out properties abroad or who own three or more properties in the UK. Landlords, we’re told, often “accidentally” includes traditional mortgage capital repayment as an expense.

Elsewhere tutors teaching subjects as disparate as horse-riding and music are also coming under HMRC’s close scrutiny.

Give yourself more time to get your Self Assessment right this time

If you’re in one of the professional groups prone to file your return late and inaccurately there’s one new first step you can take to make a better start in 2017.

The future is now with GOV.UK Verify

The new, simple and straightforward, way to access Self Assessment online is to use SecureIdentity and GOV.UK Verify. It takes only 10 to 15 minutes to create an account and you can begin filling in your self assessment tax return immediately. You’ll need to download the SecureIdentity Simple Sign-in App from the Apple store or Google Play. Have your  identity documents to hand (ie: your passport, driving licence and bank statements) and choose SecureIdentity when you’re asked to choose a certified company to verify your identity at GOV.UK Verify.

How to claim your state pension online

Claiming your state pension online is pretty simple. Here we will show you exactly what you need to do.

To claim your State Pension online you must meet the following conditions:

  • be claiming for yourself
  • be within four months of State Pension age, or older
  • not want to defer your State Pension
  • have a National Insurance number
  • have a UK bank, building society or Post Office card account
  • not be receiving, or be in the process of claiming Graduated Retirement Pension, War Widow’s or Widower’s Pension, Bereavement Benefit, Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Income Support, Industrial Death Benefit, Industrial Injuries Disablement Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit or Severe Disablement Allowance

Information you must have to complete your application: 

  • your National Insurance number
  • your current address and postcode, plus your last two addresses
  • your tax reference number (you can find this on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) forms P45 or P60, or any letter you’ve received from HMRC about tax)
  • if you’re married or in a civil partnership (or have been in the past), you will need to confirm your husband, wife or civil partner’s details (this includes their National Insurance number and the date of your marriage or civil partnership)
  • if you’re divorced or widowed, your civil partnership has dissolved or you’re a surviving civil partner, you’ll need to confirm the date you were divorced or widowed
  • details of any social security benefits or entitlements that you or your husband, wife or civil partner are getting or waiting to hear about
  • the address of any employer you’ve worked for in the last two years, and the dates you worked for them
  • if you’ve ever lived or worked abroad, you should confirm your social security number and the dates you were abroad
  • an account number where you want your State Pension paid

To claim your state pension online go to GOV.UK claim state pension online.

Check your state pension using SecureIdentity and GOV.UK

Just want to check the state pension  you’re already claiming? The quickest and easiest way to do this is by using the SecureIdentity simple-sign-in app. It’ll take no more than 10 to 15 minutes to complete the process.

 

Go online to apply for rural payments

Managing the countryside can be challenging with this in mind there are various grants and incentives available to ease the burden also known as rural payments. Apply online using GOV.UK Verify to authenticate your identity via SecureIdentity.

Presently the services available in England are as follows:

  • check and update your contact details
  • check and update your business details
  • give someone permission to act on your behalf
  • check your registered land parcels and transfer them to another business
  • check your Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) entitlements and transfer them to another business

One of the rural payments that is available is the Basic Payment Scheme. Here’s some information about it:

Basic Payment Scheme (BPS)
It’s been designed to keep farmers in active production.

Who?
This is available to farmers with at least 5 hectares of agricultural land and 5 ‘entitlements’. It’s open to farmers who claimed the old Single Payment Scheme. If you’re under 40 years old you might be entitled to extra money.

What?
To be eligible certain criteria have to be met. For example, an arable farmer needs to grow 3 different crops and use 5% of the land in activities that are of benefit to the environment. BPS claimants also need to follow compliance rules.

When?
Applications are made once a year typically in May with the first payments beginning in December.

Claiming for redundancy and monies owed explained

What do you do if your employer goes bust?

We’ve got some helpful advice for you, if you are facing the worrying prospect of not being paid because your employer has gone out of business. This simple, straightforward guide summarizes what you can do to ensure that you are compensated for work you have done.

We’ve divided things up into three areas based on the type of financial strife your workplace is experiencing. But please be advised this is only guidance. For comprehensive help take a look at the links at the end of this blog.

Administration
A business that goes into administration may be saved by transfer, in part or whole, to a new buyer.

The process
Administrators have 14 days following their appointment to decide if employees will be dismissed.

If they choose to dismiss employees within the 14 day period, the former employees become “ordinary creditors” and have to get in line for payment along with other suppliers and creditors.

If they choose to retain the employees beyond the 14 day period, the employees become “preferential creditors”, which means they are more likely to receive outstanding salary or redundancy payments.

Buyer found
Once a buyer has acquired the business, employees will be transferred to the new owner. In this case employees rights are protected under the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection from Employment) Regulations. It will include your continuity of employment and any payments owed.

Redundancy
Once made redundant there is no transfer of terms and there is no continuity of employment even if rehired by the new owner.

To claim Statutory Redundancy Pay you must meet one of these conditions:

  • Continuous employment for two or more years with your employer
  • Apply in writing to your employer or an employment tribunal within 6 months of your job ending

Claim by filling out form RP1, which you can get by calling the redundancy payments enquiry line.
Telephone: 0330 331 0020
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
Find out about call charges
Find out more by reading the redundancy payments factsheet.

Insolvency
A business becomes insolvent when it is declared bankrupt. Employees in this scenario will be made redundant. However an insolvent business maybe unable to make any redundancy payments so in this case you can claim payments from the National Insurance fund.  

Claims must be made to the Insolvency Service. Find out how to make a claim on the GOV.UK website.

Also note the terms stated in the Insolvency Act 1986. It states the only preferential creditors are entitled to their outstanding salary (including commission) for the four month period preceding the insolvency and up to £800. This also includes accrued holiday pay (up to six weeks) and certain occupational pension payments. Additional monies owed including payments related to periods longer than four months is classed as ordinary debt.

Liquidation
The business stops and you will no longer have a job.

The National Insurance Fund (NIF)
To qualify for NIF payments your employer must be insolvent and your employment terminated.

Before making an application you must have done everything you can to get your payment, this includes writing to your insolvent employer within six months of your end employment date to ask for payment.

NIF claims have limits:

  • There’s a cap of £430 a week for unpaid salary up to a maximum of 8 weeks.
  • Up to 6 weeks holiday pay to a maximum of £800.
  • Outstanding statutory notice up to a maximum of £430 a week.
  • The statutory minimum notice is one week for every year worked, up to 12 weeks.

Claim for redundancy and monies owed

Redundancy and your rights

Your rights if your employer becomes insolvent

 

What is Universal Credit? We explain all

Universal Credit is the new benefit which is being introduced nationwide. It’s part of the government’s overhaul of the welfare system.

The six credits Universal Credit is replacing are:

  1. Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  2. Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  3. Income Support
  4. Working Tax Credit
  5. Child Tax Credit
  6. Housing Benefit

How much?
The benefits calculator on the GOV.UK website estimates what benefit contributions you are entitled to.

And here’s our summary of how Universal Credit will affect claimants:

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
The first payment is made after seven days. A Claimant Commitment will detail the tasks you will need to complete to remain eligible for payments. And you will have to attend regular appointments at the Jobcentre.

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
With Universal Credit, claimants no longer have a cap on the number of hours you can work.

Universal credit payments will be reduced in relation to the level of your income increase. Universal Credits are reduced gradually and if you are not earning enough you are entitled to top-up contributions.

New rules for young adults aged 18 to 21
From April 2017 Universal Credit claimants in this category will have to attend a Youth Obligation programme for six months. Following which they will be expected to apply for apprenticeships, traineeships or work placements.

Income Support
Universal Credit will eventually replace this benefit.

Working Tax Credits
If you become unemployed and begin claiming Universal Credit your working tax credits will stop. Also, if you begin living with a partner who receives Universal Credit your tax credits will stop as you become joint claimants.

Child Tax Credit
Universal Credits will replace Child Tax Credits, Tax Credits contributing towards childcare plus any additional payments. The additional payments cover contributions you receive towards childcare if you’re working, these can be up to 70% of registered childcare costs.

Housing Benefit
If you rent, your Universal Credit will be paid into your bank account. It will then be your responsibility to pay your landlord.If you receive contributions towards your mortgage repayments the money will paid directly to your mortgage lender.

Also note that once you or your partner starts earning, mortgage contributions will not be included in your Universal Credit.

Information for the self-employed
Universal Credit is not available to the self employed. But if you are on Universal Credit and then choose to become self-employed you will be supported until your business grows.

The other benefits combined & how it’s worked out
The amount of money you get is calculated through a comparison of your basic financial needs to what you need to live on with your financial resources. These resources include the support you receive towards housing, children, childcare, if you have a disability, or if you are a carer.

Also note that cohabiting partners who are both eligible for Universal Credit will receive one joint, monthly payment.

How to apply

To be eligible you must be a resident in Great Britain, aged 18 years or over and no longer in education. But in exceptional cases you can claim Universal Credit if you are 16 or 17 years old with no parental support.

Claimants must be below Pension Credit age. But if in a couple and one of you is over Pension Credit age, you’ll both need to claim Universal Credit as a couple until you both reach Pension Credit age.

Find a local adviser to receive support and advice from.

When
Here’s a map of when and where Universal Credit is being rolled out.

Where
And here’s a link to create a secure digital identity to claim Universal Credit (limited service).

3 medical conditions to report to the DVLA

Did you know that there are three medical conditions that can be reported to the DVLA online? There are a number of other conditions that also must be reported to the DVLA. However these have to be done via post.

If you fail to report these medical conditions to the DVLA you can face a fine of £1000.

At present, you can only go online to report the following three medical conditions on the GOV.UK site:

  •  diabetes
  •  epilepsy
  •  a condition that affects your vision

    You’ll need to enter details about your current driving licence and your condition. You may also have to provide your GP’s name and address.

    Before you are able to report a medical condition you’ll need to create a secure digital identity which you can do with us, SecureIdentity. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes using our app and your smartphone. It can be used to access other government services online. You’ll have to go through the Verify service which is described here.

    Click here for more information on how to create your secure digital identity.