Verify: Flagship digital ID scheme ‘failing the public’, MPs warn | Science & Tech News

The government’s flagship digital ID system “is failing its users and struggling to meet key targets” according to a damning report by MPs.

Although the online identity service Verify went live in 2016, it has “not delivered value for money” and “missed all of its original performance targets”, MPs from the public accounts committee warned.

Verify was intended to provide a single trusted login across all of the digital services which people might need in the UK, and promised to confirm users’ identities within 15 minutes by 2012.

However the platform was launched launched four years late and failed to verify individuals’ identities in more than 50% of cases, receiving more than £100m of public funds in the process.

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office told Sky News: “Verify has saved taxpayers more than £300m and is a world-leading example of how to enable people to use services securely online.”

But according to MPs the scheme, which promised to be easy to use, has been very problematic for individuals claiming Universal Credit – which make up the majority of Verify’s users.

According to the committee, just 38% of Universal Credit claimants can successfully use Verify when applying for the benefit, which has been dogged by allegations that it has failed the most vulnerable in society.

MPs accused the scheme of demonstrating typical government project failings, including over-optimistic promises and a lack of delivery.

They added that the Cabinet Office had failed to protect taxpayers’ interests in securing its intellectual property.

The committee’s chair Meg Hillier MP said: “Three years after GOV.UK Verify was introduced, the system is failing its users and struggling to meet key targets.

“Key government departments do not want to use the system and members of the public are facing problems signing up.

“Once again, the government has not delivered on a project that was over-ambitious from the start. This is a verdict the Public Accounts Committee are making all too often on large government projects.”

There have been more than 20 internal and external reviews into Verify, but the Government Digital Service (GDS) and the Cabinet Office have “failed to get the programme on track” said the MPs.

“Six months after announcing that public funding would stop in March 2020, GDS and the Cabinet Office have not resolved major uncertainties about how Verify will operate beyond that date,” they added.

The Cabinet Office spokesperson added: “The PAC report reflects that this has been a challenging project – but challenges like these are to be expected when the government is working at the forefront of new technology.

“Verify is now at a point where it can be taken forward by the private sector, so people will be able to safely and securely access both private and public online services.”

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