A new digital user experience via GOV.Verify

The online environment has evolved rapidly in the last 16 years from when Government Gateway first began. Users now have a whole new set of expectations when it comes to the internet.

Nowadays social media and online shopping are a daily habit. The power of brands like Amazon, Facebook and MoneySupermarket has changed user experiences dramatically and continues to do so.

Amazon allows one click buying with its subscription service delivery times have been reduced to overnight or same-day delivery. When picking products you’re now given reviews and examples of similar products bought by other customers. This was unimaginable 16 years ago.

Facebook allows you to customise the news you see, it has a chat service and gives you the option of creating events, re-posting memories in the form of past status postings, and the options are ever increasing.

Comparison sites with the breadth of information that MoneySupermarket provides did not exist 16 years ago. Nowadays using a comparison site to change for example a utility provider has become commonplace whereas before that kind of digital competition was not possible.

These are just three examples of how digital user journeys with their personalisation and ease of use have become a standard. The Government must recreate a similar experience for public sector services to keep apace with private sector.

Now it’s possible to book a flight on your commute, switch electricity providers in a lunchtime and to video call your friends abroad using an online messaging service. The private sector rapid progress has bought into question the ease and personalisation of Government Gateway user experiences. Whereas previously just being able to use a service online was the most anyone expected.

Principally Government Gateway requires citizens to register for different online services separately. The process usually involved receiving a code through the post and having half revealed online. There is also a separate user ID. All a bit cumbersome. Citizen blogger Paul Clarke neatly sums it up as being, “not quite a seamless electronic transaction”. Nowadays anything that isn’t as easy as one-click shopping is going to be questioned by consumers who are accustomed to easy-to-use systems.

Clarke points out that the reliance on the post is a hindrance especially in the lead up up to the self assessment deadline January 31st. He says, “In the days leading up to Jan 31st the post seems to move very slowly indeed. And you might lose that 12-digit number in the meantime”. The fragmented aspect of registration seems particularly antiquated.

Issues with Government Gateway were also raised by the National Audit Office (NAO) who said: ‘”The Government Gateway provides only limited levels of identity assurance and, without further investment, its weaknesses will be increasingly exposed and under attack. Extending the gateway’s life will delay the delivery of the digital by default agenda which needs higher levels of identity assurance.”

No sooner had these issues been raised that the Financial Times newspaper suggested the Government Gateway had been hacked. It pointed at profiles containing information shared by HM Revenues and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions as being compromised. However as reported by website government computing the government rejected that there had been a widespread breach of its online system. The story highlighted how the system was vulnerable.

With user experience having changed drastically along with weaknesses highlighted by the NAO, Government Gateway is long overdue a change to be brought up-to-date. This brings us to GOV.UK Verify the new secure identity authentication service allowing citizens to access public sector online services. The UK government strives to move with the technology market and keep a digital first mindset. GOV.UK Verify has most importantly introduced competition to the secure identity market by allowing citizens to choose from nine verification services.

Each verification service provider has been approved by the government. As citizens now have nine companies to choose from, it is in the best interests of everyone to provide the most full-proof secure service possible. At SecureIdentity we have over 20 years experience in providing secure identities to governments, institutions and security services. We just haven’t been customer facing so our parent company Morpho is one you may not have heard of.

GOV.UK Verify allows citizens to register once with their chosen provider. Once authenticated, citizens can sign into any number of online government services. This has been seen as providing added security as reported in www.V3.co.uk, “Information is not stored centrally, and there’s no unnecessary sharing of information. The company you choose doesn’t know which service you’re trying to access, and the government department doesn’t know which company you choose.”

SecureIdentity makes proving your identity easy with a simple sign-in app that even gives you the option of using a selfie to sign into services. We are continuously innovating, it’s why we have remained in the market for the last two decades. And we look forward to helping citizens authenticate their identities through GOV.UK Verify.


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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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