In a surprising move, the government is to extend its flagship identity platform GOV.UK Verify for another two years, according to the Cabinet Office.
This is despite the government announcing last month it was running a “discreet pilot” of a new digital identity system as a successor to Verify platform.
Cabinet Office minister Julia Lopez MP said at the time that “all parties are keen to move on from Verify’s over-elaborate expectations, trajectory and cost.”
“Good progress on our pilot is expected in coming months, with joint discovery work due to accelerate further.”
However, in an update to Parliament on Tuesday, Lopez said the government has decided to extend the current Verify service, enabling new users to sign up until April 2022 and existing users to sign in until April 2023.
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She maintained the work is still underway on the pilot identity scheme to make it easier for people to access government services online.
“People rightly expect from the government a personalised, seamless and intuitive online service of the kind they get from their favourite online retailers. This pilot is an important step in that direction. Work is underway and we have started the co-design with services and departments across government.”
But while the new system is being developed alongside the Government Digital Service (GDS) and other departments, she said many users and connected government services still rely on Verify – hence the extension of the service for two more years.
The decision to extend Verify will have taken many by surprise. One report from think thank Policy Exchange, said the lack of reliable digital ID services is severely limiting the UK’s future as a leading digital economy.
Last year the Cabinet Office’s own annual report said Verify “continued to pose notable risks”, as it struggled to cope with demand for digital services in the early stages of lockdown.