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19 local councils sign up for Gov.uk Verify trials

GDS will lead pilots of using identity assurance system for local authority digital services

Nineteen local authorities have signed up to run pilots of the government’s new identity assurance service, Gov.uk Verify.

In September 2016, the Government Digital Service (GDS) announced plans to launch two pilot projects and appealed to councils to get involved.

The trials will investigate the use of Verify for two services – applications for older people’s concessionary travel passes and residents’ parking permits. Fourteen councils will work on parking permits, and 11 on travel passes – with six of the authorities working on both.

The planning process will start with “discovery” workshops for each service on 18 October. A separate event for potential suppliers is taking place on 3 October.

Jess McEvoy, GDS interim programme director for Verify, said: “The pilots are a true collaboration across a large number of organisations, working in the open. I’m really delighted with the response we’ve received from local authorities so far and all the input we’ve had from the sector in shaping our approach. We can’t wait to get started.”

The identity assurance platform, which formally went live in May 2016, works by asking users to set up an account with one of a selection of third-party identity providers, such as the Post Office, Experian or Verizon.

Each company then asks the user to prove who they are, using available data such as their credit history or by allowing electronic access to documents such as passports. 

Under the leadership of Janet Hughes, who left GDS in August, the organisation had already carried out a pilot in Warwickshire, joining up the county council, Verify and a service from the Department for Work and Pensions to allow people to apply for a Blue Badge online

Local authorities wanting to be part of the latest pilots had to meet a set of criteria set out by GDS, including agreeing to transparency, having a dedicated council team with a single point of contact, and agreeing that any products created as part of the project remain open source.

According to a blog post published by GDS, more than 90 councils said they were interested in working on trials of other digital services such as housing benefit and council tax. GDS intends to run workshops on other such services in the near future.

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