Government urged to extend data available for identity digital verification techniques to increase access to government and private sector services, and increase inclusion
23 September 2021: The UK Government is being urged to expand its techniques for validating and verifying people’s access to public and private sector services. This follows new analysis from the Open Identity Exchange (OIX) which reveals that at least six million people can be classed as ‘ID Challenged’, meaning they likely struggle to access government services such as Universal Credit.
With millions lacking a passport or driving licence, the research identified the extent of the UK’s identity challenge, leaving millions of the public unable to validate or verify themselves on services like GOV.UK Verify. This is because government and private sector services rely on users to have either a passport, driving licence or online banking and non-bank credit account and provide evidence of these online.
This is despite eight million accounts being set up on GOV.UK Verify and 19 government services using the service two years ago, with these numbers likely rising since. In fact, according to the most recent National Audit Office Report (NAO), the Government Digital Service (GDS) reported a verification success rate of only 48% (Feb 2019), meaning over half of those using Verify were not able to sign up to GDS on their first attempt, if at all.
Furthermore, despite Universal Credit being the government service most reliant on Verify, of the 70% of claimants who have tried to authenticate their identity through Verify, only 38% were able to do so. Those that cannot verify their identity online must attend the Department for Work and Pension’s (DWP) offices for manual verification.
Government actions is needed
In order to help the six million UK residents currently impacted by being ID Challenged, OIX is calling upon the UK Government to make key ID data sets available to be used in ID Verification.
OIX has identified five key data sets that will enable millions to access government and private sector services and readily verify themselves online. NHS Patient Numbers, National Insurance Numbers, Council Tax bills, Online Banking and Learning Records Services. Council Tax bills (2.1m), Online Banking (1.9m) and Learning Records Service (1.2m) are all likely to help millions, whist NHS and National Insurance Numbers would support access for the vast majority of ID Challenged individuals.
Nick Mothershaw, Chief Identity Strategist, OIX commented: “Digital ID will only work if it’s truly inclusive and that means opening up access to more datasets, often government data. This will be vital in enabling more people to prove who they are and get access to the services they are entitled to. Anyone who wants to use a Digital ID to access services should be able to create one, and the process of setting it up should be as easy as possible. Our unique analysis has revealed that using traditional ID documents or just the currently available data sources, a staggering number of people will be excluded as they will struggle to set up a Digital ID. This analysis is just the start - our next step will be to work with the owners of these data sources to make them available in the ID proofing ecosystem to ensure inclusion is easily achieved.”
ID-proofing unlocking the door
As with any digital ambition which involves an increase in the number of data sets that can be used to verify an identity, naturally, there is the potential of an increased risk of fraud or malicious attempts from hackers. In order to counter that, OIX is advocating the Government look at the following ID-proofing techniques:
- Account log-in controlled environment. The user logs on and consents to their ID information being shared – like open banking
- Digital verifiable credential issued by authoritative source with digitally signed certificate. As option 1, but the user gets a re-useable credential that they can share again and again
- API validation against authoritative source. The user gives consent for the ID provider to call an authoritative source to validate and verify their details
- Letters with added security features. This includes a QR code, such as those used on the paper NHS Covid Pass
What is ID Challenged?
To define ID Challenged, OIX worked with Experian’s MOSAIC 7 data sets, which is the latest version Experian’s UK population analysis tool. It comprises data about the UK population that is based on a variety of different existing datasets created by national surveys, such as the Office of National Statistics’ census, as well as bespoke Experian research. Five segments were identified as most likely to be ID Challenged:
- Budgeting Families – an estimated 1,238,117 adults
- Urban Renters – an estimated 991,339 adults
- Vintage Veterans – an estimated 836,367 adults
- Community Culture – an estimated 291,074 adults
- Rural Solitude – an estimated 287,429 adults
Alongside these, just primary demographics, nearly 2.3 million across the rest of the UK are also at risk.
The Open Identity Exchange was formed in 2010 to address the increasing challenges of building trust in online identity.
OIX is a membership organisation, offering education, information and collaboration around the topic of universally trusted identity.
We bring together buyers of ID Services (reliant organisations, or relying parties) with ID Service organisations such as tech vendors, consultancies, along with regulators and market influencers to work together to drive adoption of ID Trust.
Our papers and guides form the bedrock of Trust Frameworks that supports the creation and use of inter-operable, universally trusted identities.
To find out more or to join the Open Identity Exchange, please email: