HMRC step closer to Verify authentication service

TAXPAYERS will soon need to prove their identity in order to access HMRC’s online services, as the government claims it’s “nearly there” with transforming its Verify authentication service from a beta to a live version.

The news comes just days after HMRC delayed its much-anticipated consultation documents on its Making Tax Digital service until after the EU referendum.

Verify is the digital service that taxpayers will need to access to prove their identity before being able to use HMRC’s online services and other government digital platforms.

In a government blog post published late last month, Janet Hughes, identity assurance programme director at Government Digital Services (GDS), confirmed that the Verify service is in its final steps of competition before it moves away from its beta testing phase, and will become a permanent fixture across government, including at HMRC, along with 50 other government services.

The taxman will be a key adopter of Verify, as taxpayers will need the service to sign into their personal tax account, to complete their self-assessment and to complete a number of other tax-related services.

“Live will not be a dramatic change. It’s part of an ongoing gradual process of developing and scaling up the service and GOV.UK Verify will actually look exactly the same to users, apart from the removal of the beta label,” explained Hughes, who added that eight certified companies will be offering the live Verify service, including Barclays, Experian, Post Office and Royal Mail.

Matthew Hancock, minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “Privacy or cyber security are nothing without reliable verification of identity. So I’m delighted to announce that Verify has passed its service assessment and will go live next week.

“Verify allows secure and straightforward identity checking without the need for an identity database – and underpins the digital transformation of government and I want to thank the Verify team for their innovative, determined and dedicated work.”

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