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Verify Scheme

Volume 698: debated on Thursday 8 July 2021

What recent assessment his Department has made of the (a) viability and (b) value for money of the Verify scheme. (902412)

Verify continues to work well and it supports 18 services. More than 8 million Verify accounts have been created, with over 2.6 million added since the start of the pandemic as citizens access critical online services. Building on the lessons and experience of Verify, and as we announced in last year’s spending review, the Government Digital Service is collaborating with other Departments to develop a new login and identity assurance system that will make it much easier for more people to use online services safely. While the new system is being developed, users and connected services will continue to rely on Verify, so that means that the Government have decided to extend the current service until April 2022.

It has actually been a shambles—a huge waste of public money, an absolute Conservative failure. In the light of the recent report from the so-called regulatory reform taskforce sponsored by No. 10, which recommends reducing the protections for citizens under the GDPR, will the Minister assure the House that there will be no use of personal data for any purpose other than that which it has been explicitly given?

How we use citizens’ data is going to be absolutely critical to building trust in the new system that we are building. That new system will reuse parts of Verify, but we must have an open conversation about what we will do to protect people’s data. There will not be any data lakes, for instance, and we will be building a new Government data exchange that will look at these areas very carefully, because, as I say, any new system has to be based on trust between Government and citizen, and that will be key to its success.