Problems surface as first users attempt to use Verify

Problems have surfaced as users try to use Verify to prove their identities

Problems have surfaced as users tried to use Verify to prove their identities on the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) website.

Defra was the first department to utilise the government’s new identity assurance system last week. Verify is a system for proving users' identities when using public services online and the rural support service is the first to implement the assurance system. Verify has been incorporated into the rural support (Common Agricultural Policy – CAP) online service, which allows farmers to submit information about how land is used to claim subsidies under CAP. 

But within days of the system being introduced, several users have been unable to register with Experian – the only company currently certified to confirm identity – meaning those users risk not receiving their CAP payments.

Farmers used the CAP Reform blog to express their anger. One commenter, Davina Emmett, said: “This couldn’t be more complicated if you tried we are farmers not computer experts.”

Another user, Simon Caudwell, commented: “Unable to register with Experian. Been through the whole process twice now and talked to Experian help line on both occasions but they are still unable to make it work. Latest advice is to leave it until next week and try again!”

Labour shadow Cabinet Office minister, Chi Onwurah, took to twitter to ask why the Verify service relied on Experian, meaning some farmers aren’t getting their CAP payments.

Meanwhile, a blog post about CAP reform published on today said it recognised some people were not getting through the process, but the system was under “continuous improvement.”

“We’re using feedback from customers to continue to develop and improve the service,” said the blog post. “Nobody is excluded from the service if they can’t register. The certified companies have telephone help lines you can call if you have problems. The registration packs also have helpline details.

 “Currently there is just one certified company providing Verify. More certified companies will come online in the near future,” said the post.

The government today said it expects almost half a million people will be using its Verify service for online identity assurance by April 2015.

The target represents a short delay on previous plans for up to 600,000 citizens to be registered on the system by the end of this year, but the Government Digital Service has published a more detailed breakdown of which public services are moving on to Verify in the next few months and their predicted user numbers.

Once Verify is fully rolled out, as many as 20 million citizens could be registered, with 10 million expected to be using HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) online services, and a similar number on Universal Credit.

By the end of this year, four services are expected to follow Defra in joining Verify, including HMRC’s change company care details for PAYE; DVLA’s view driving licence; redundancy payments from the Insolvency Service; and change of address for the Department for Work and Pensions. A trial version of HMRC self-assessment is also scheduled for this year.

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