IDA services put on ice for Universal Credit delivery

The DWP's Universal Credit programme is unlikely to use identity assurance services

The Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Universal Credit programme is unlikely to use identity assurance (IDA) services, with responsibility for the identity framework having now moved to the Government Procurement Service.

The Universal Credit (UC) programme was designed to be the flagship project for the use of IDA services – the system for enabling citizens to authenticate themselves online, and necessary for the use of transactional, digital-by-default services.

However, this part of the programme appears to have been put on ice, with sources having told Computer Weekly the DWP is not currently buying any IDA services from the eight identity assurance providers on the £25m IDA framework

No mention was made of the use of IDA in the DWP’s Local Support Services Framework, aimed at offering support for the second phase of the UC roll-out starting in October 2013.

Instead, the paper referenced the issuing of PIN numbers to users for their online accounts, to report changes of circumstance or make enquiries.

The news comes amid reports that the £2.2bn programme has hit major problems, with claims that key IT firms have been asked to down tools, and that the system is being stripped down and scaled back.

The senior management responsible for delivering the programme has also undergone a significant overhaul in recent months, with UC programme director Hilary Reynolds being the latest figure to be taken off the project after just four months in the role.

A spokeswoman for the DWP said: “The identity provider framework was designed to be available to other government departments, which, like DWP, are also working with the Government Digital Service to develop personalised online services for citizens.

“In line with government best practice for cross-government services, responsibility for the framework is now being moved to the Government Procurement Service – as we've always said it would."


Read more on IT for government and public sector