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TOPIC: DWP claimants are about to see another service privatised

DWP claimants are about to see another service privatised 12 Oct 2018 00:39 #10518

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Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) claimants will soon see the government give another service to the private sector. But the government has slipped this move out quietly – via a written statement to parliament.
The DWP: a silent sale

The GOV.UK Verify service is the online process of proving your identity. It’s an essential part of the DWP claim process. Because you need to have registered with it to apply for Universal Credit. But in less than two years’ time, the government will have sold it to the private sector.

Minister for the implementation (part of the cabinet office) Oliver Dowden gave a written statement on Tuesday 9 October. It detailed how the government will sell Verify. But it wasn’t very clear about its intentions.

Dowden said:

GOV.UK Verify is now sufficiently mature to move to the next phase of its development. The private sector will take responsibility for broadening the usage and application of digital identity in the UK.

I can confirm that contracts have been signed with a number of private sector identity providers, for an 18 month period, and with capped expenditure. These commercial arrangements formalise the transition to a private sector led model.

Verify in trouble

Verify was already in trouble. As Computer Weekly reported, in September a government watchdog said it should be scrapped. It was already run, in part, with private companies. The government paid them per person who signed up. But since then, it appears to have hedged its bets on ploughing more money into the project; hence Dowden’s statement. This seems to be an attempt to salvage some of its original £130m investment.

As Public Technology.net reported, the government have given contracts to five companies already involved. These are Barclays, Digidentity, Experian, Post Office, and SecureIdentity. So far, it’s not revealed how much these contracts are worth. The government didn’t even announce Dowden’s statement on its website. But the after effects of the sell-off could be long-lasting.

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