According to figures recently released by the UK government, the official Gov.UK Verify portal saw a huge surge in traffic in the early days of the Covid19 pandemic. At one point, the portal was handling around 10,000 applications per day. The Gov.UK Verify site is an identity-verifying site, which is used for people applying for Universal Credit, a basic DBS certificate, or to check pension entitlement.
Before the pandemic hit, the government’s website was handling around 35,000 applications per week for an official digital identity. Since the start of the lockdown in mid-March however, traffic has more than doubled.
Gov.UK Verify is a way of accurately and officially establishing the identity of an individual. The government website works with a range of third-party providers such as the Post Office, Experian and Barclays to verify information input by applicants. This is done using a range of data such as passport numbers and other personal information, along with details held on the electoral roll, credit files and other databases. Anyone who has a sufficient “digital footprint”, such as being on the electoral register and paying a utility bill at their home address can obtain instant verification from identity providers.
Unsurprisingly given the increased traffic, many users are experiencing huge delays on the verification platform. The issue is particularly acute for applications for Universal Credit, as the first stage of any application for financial support is to go through the verification process. The Department of Work and Pensions has implemented several strategies to cut waiting times, such as online queuing to access the website or introducing a manual method for scanning passport biometric information. Along with an increase in the numbers of support staff available to help applicants, the government increased capacity on the Verify system to cope with 400 users per minute.
Online Verification and DBS Checks
Although a high percentage of users on the Verify website were trying to establish their identity to set up a Universal Credit account, another group were trying to apply for a disclosure check. The application route for a basic disclosure check starts with an online application and verifying identity through the portal. Customers do this by completing a form with basic personal details and address history, then giving details of trusted government documents such as passport or driving licence. Applicants who require a more detailed level of DBS check because of their job will show documents to their employer instead.
Although the spike in traffic to the government website has passed, the precarious economy is likely to mean more redundancies and more people heading to the website to register for Universal Credit. This could again overload the service and result in huge delays for users. The best advice is always to act promptly and not leave applications until the last minute. This holds true whether you’re applying for Universal Credit or trying to get a Basic DBS check for a new self-employed venture.