The modern alternative to Government Gateway

GOV.UK Verify is the new way to prove who you are when you’re accessing secure government services online. It’s the latest innovation in the UK Government’s digital story that started at the end of the last century.

The origins of digital government and the rise of the Government Gateway

To really set the scene let’s remember what online looked like at the turn of the millennium.

The year is 2000. The world has just dodged the IT meltdown we all expected from the millennium bug and the average office worker is now using email at work almost every day. Digital pioneers dine out on stories that they have ordered books online from something called Amazon.com and a social network called FriendsReunited is about to launch and change the way we think about the internet forever. Facebook is yet to be invented.

It’s in this smartphone free, unconnected world that the UK Government introduces the world’s most ambitious digital change strategy of its time.

The vision was to have 100 per cent of government services online by 2005.

The vision

The Government wanted to create a centralised service for all e-Government services in the UK. This would allow citizens to access multiple public services online. No government in the world was doing more to meet the anticipated demand for digital.

The first version of Government Gateway’s registration and enrolment service was launched in 2001. The first fully operational service available allowed the UK’s first digital citizens to file tax returns online.

A model system

By 2007, with 11 million users, Government Gateway had established its place as a word-class example of digital government service delivery.  The Gateway was handling 20 million transactions across different departments every year and counting.

The positive sentiment continued. Copycat systems started to appear in other parts of the world such as the Czech Republic.

By 2012, Government Gateway had exceeding even its own expectations. It allowed UK citizens to access 166 services across a total of 55 government departments. The UK government had created a digital environment that supported a staggering 50 million users.

GOV.UK Verify launches

Now if you wish to access government services online the new way is to use GOV.UK Verify.

The Cabinet Office started work on the GOV.UK Verify system in 2011 (back then it was known as the Identity Assurance Programme, or IDAP).  Between 2011 and May 2016 the system went through a phase of  private, then public Betas to become the live public service we know today.

GOV.UK Verify is designed to deliver the simple secure online experience that today’s internet user expects. To use services at GOV.UK, UK citizens just need to set up an identity account with a certified identity provider like SecureIdentity. Unlike the old registration process used at Government Gateway, registering is completed online without the need to wait for any passwords or login details in the post.

You can see all the services available to GOV.UK Verify users here. More services are joining GOV.UK Verify all the time so if you’ve already registered for SecureIdentity and you’re finding it useful, expect to find it even more useful as new services are added.

Read more: why replace Government gateway?

Rural Payments: You can apply now for the Basic Payment Scheme 2017

From early March, farmers will be able to submit their application for the Basic Rural Payment Scheme 2017.

Rural payments made to UK farmers can be quite complex, largely because there is no single type of rural payment and no single agency either.

Devolved services for Scotland, Wales & Ireland don’t go through GOV.UK Verify so if you’re applying for rural payments in these regions you’ll need to use the regional Government sites.

Remember:

  • If you own land in different countries then you have to go through individual schemes to make multiple claims.
  • Different pages will be relevant to you.
  • There is no single scheme that covers all of the UK.

But the Basic Payments Schemes (BPS) is the most popular scheme available to farmers. It’s possibly the biggest subsidy helping farmers today. If your
holding is in England then the scheme can be accessed using
SecureIdentity at the GOV.UK site

Making your claim soon brings some real benefits

Submitting your BPS claim online from this month means the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will be able to make advance part payments to you and you’ll be able to make changes to your application up to 15th May.

Recent enhancements to the way online claims work have ensured that claiming online usually means improved accuracy and reduced risk of a penalty too.  

Get started

You can use this calculator to work out what your BPS entitlement is likely to be. Learn how to access rural payments the easy way, using SecureIdentity.

3 really useful tips for filling in your self assessment tax return

Want to save yourself a £100 fine and further penalties by completing your Self Assessment tax return before the January 31st deadline?

We’ve scoured the internet to collate the three essential things you can do now to ease the burden of filing and submitting your return in good time. Read on to avoid a filing nightmare and  turn your Self Assessment tax task into a quick-click affair.

1. Go online to avoid a fine

Sadly, you’ve missed the deadline for filing a paper return. This was October 31st 2016 so now your only option is to create an online account. You have two choices: the old way and the new way.

The Old Way

The old way is to use the Government Gateway. You’ve probably heard of it already. Registering this way can take days because you have to wait for the post to receive your access code. But if you’re already registered with Government Gateway and have access to the Self Assessment service, this may be a good route for you.

The New Way

The new, straightforward and quick way to access Self Assessment (and other Government services) is to use GOV.UK Verify together with a certified identity provider like SecureIdentity. It takes 10 to 15 minutes. After registration with SecureIdentity you can begin filling in your self assessment tax return immediately.

You’ll need to choose a certified company to verify your identity at GOV.UK Verify. Have your  identity documents to hand (ie: your passport, driving licence and bank statements) and choose SecureIdentity when you’re asked to select a certified company to verify your identity. There’s no difficult-to-remember passwords and you’re not stuck waiting for something in the post.

Once you’re verified you can use your SecureIdentity to access other online Government services too. Eventually everyone will be required to create an online identity to access Government services at GOV.UK so by getting one now you’re saving yourself time later. The Government Gateway will eventually become obsolete.

2. Paper preparation eases the declaration

Another thing you can do to de-stress the whole process is gathering all the relevant documents in advance. Here’s a list of some of the things you’ll need:

  • P60 – if you’re employed this will have all of your end of year figures.
  • P11D or P9D – if your employer has given you extra benefits in addition to your salary, or you have expenses, they must all be declared using these documents.
  • P45 – if you changed jobs during the tax year, your previous employer will have issued this.
  • payslips – to calculate your earnings and check figures against your P60 or P45.
  • receipts – for all the expenses you are claiming, for example business related travel. But be sure that your expenses are HMRC approved.
  • bank statements of your savings accounts – you’ll need them to calculate the interest you earned after being taxed which is you net interest. Also do remember that your ISA income does not need to be declared, it’s tax free.
  • dividends statements – to calculate income received from stocks and/or shares.
  • statements for pension income – to add to your income.

But what if you’ve lost one of the above bits of paper? Here’s what you can do:

  • P60 – you can get a replacement from your employer which will be marked duplicate. Your employer is obliged to keep copies of your P60 for at least the last three years.
  • P11D – again your employer should be able to provide you with a copy or you can contact HMRC for a copy.
  • P45 – you cannot get a replacement but your new employer may be able to provide you with a ‘Starter Checklist’.
  • payslips – the first place to ask would be your employer but if you get really stuck you can use your bank statement to find the figures for earnings that you received.
  • receipts – this is a grey area, it’s not really advisable to estimate expenses as you really need evidence if you are audited.
  • statements from your bank, pension provider and share or stock organisation – contact the relevant organisation for a copies. But do remember that you may be charged for copies.

3. Giving is receiving to charity

Be sure to list all your charitable donations. This is particularly important if you are a higher rate taxpayer because you can reduce your tax bill by offsetting what you have donated. Charitable donations include GiftAid payments and annual memberships of charities such as English Heritage and the National Trust.

Don’t delay, get started today on your Self Assessment tax return! 

Is your occupation on HMRC’s Self Assessment “watchlist”?

If you’re a dentist, doctor, landlord or private tutor submitting your Self Assessment online this month, you may be under more scrutiny than other professions.

In recent years, the Government has developed a super-computer that collates data from key sources. The data helps pinpoint discrepancies in an individual’s Self Assessment tax return and, as a result,  identifies the occupational groups most likely to file late or inaccurate returns.

Doctors and dentists are high on the “watchlist”.  Already HMRC has collected at least £10m in unpaid tax from these professionals by, for instance, using data collected from drug companies, locum agencies and other organisations to spot errors in individual returns.

Landlords also receive this kind of special treatment. HMRC is actively examining people who rent out properties abroad or who own three or more properties in the UK. Landlords we’re told often “accidentally” include traditional mortgage capital repayment as an expense.

Elsewhere, tutors teaching subjects as disparate as horse-riding and music are also coming under HMRC’s close scrutiny.

Give yourself more time to get your Self Assessment right this time

If you’re in one of the professional groups prone to filing your return late and inaccurately there’s one new first step you can take to make a better start in 2017.

The future is now with GOV.UK Verify

The new, simple and straightforward way to access Self Assessment online is to use SecureIdentity and GOV.UK Verify. It takes only 10 to 15 minutes to create an account and you can begin filling in your Self Assessment tax return immediately. You’ll need to download the SecureIdentity Simple Sign-in App from the Apple store or Google Play. Have your  identity documents to hand (ie: your passport, driving licence and bank statements) and choose SecureIdentity when you’re asked to select a certified company to verify your identity at GOV.UK Verify.

Help your friends or family with their tax affairs

Tax returns and other Government services have gone digital, which can be daunting for some people, especially the elderly, disabled, infirm or vulnerable who may be reluctant to go online themselves.

You can help friends and family access the Government services they need online by becoming a “trusted helper”.

A trusted helper can:

  • confirm that their friend or family member’s Income Tax assessment is correct
  • update or check their friend or family member’s personal tax account
  • claim their friend or family member’s tax refund
  • check their friend or family member’s company car tax

You can be a trusted helper for up to 5 people using SecureIdentity and GOV.UK.

Here’s how it works

If you already have a SecureIdentity just use your Simple Sign-in app to login. If you don’t already have a SecureIdentity you can create one in 10 to 15 minutes. Just choose SecureIdentity when you’re asked to select a certified company to verify your identity at GOV.UK Verify).

After verifying your identity, you’ll need the following details for each individual that you will be helping:

  • first name and surname
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number

The person that you are helping will need to verify their identity on GOV.UK Verify. They will have to sign in to their account and accept you as a ‘trusted helper’.

Remember that even if you are helping someone with their tax, they are still responsible for their own taxes.

More about becoming a trusted helper

What is Universal Credit? We explain all

Universal Credit is the new benefit which is being introduced nationwide. It’s part of the Government’s overhaul of the welfare system.

The six credits that Universal Credit is replacing are:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit

How much?

The benefits calculator on the GOV.UK website estimates what benefit contributions you are entitled to.

And here’s our summary of how Universal Credit will affect claimants:

Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

The first payment is made after seven days. A Claimant Commitment will detail the tasks you will need to complete to remain eligible for payments. And you will have to attend regular appointments at the Jobcentre.

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

With Universal Credit, claimants no longer have a cap on the number of hours you can work.

Universal Credit payments will be reduced in relation to the level of your income increase. Universal Credits are reduced gradually and if you are not earning enough you are entitled to top-up contributions.

New rules for young adults aged 18 to 21

From April 2017 Universal Credit claimants in this category will have to attend a Youth Obligation programme for six months. Following this they will be expected to apply for apprenticeships, traineeships or work placements.

Income Support

Universal Credit will eventually replace this benefit.

Working Tax Credits

If you become unemployed and begin claiming Universal Credit your working tax credits will stop. Also, if you begin living with a partner who receives Universal Credit your tax credits will stop as you become joint claimants.

Child Tax Credits

Universal Credits will replace Child Tax Credits, Tax Credits contributing towards childcare plus any additional payments. The additional payments cover contributions you receive towards childcare if you’re working, these can be up to 70% of registered childcare costs.

Housing Benefit

If you rent, your Universal Credit will be paid into your bank account. It will then be your responsibility to pay your landlord. If you receive contributions towards your mortgage repayments the money will paid directly to your mortgage lender.

Also note that once you or your partner starts earning, mortgage contributions will not be included in your Universal Credit.

Information for the self-employed

Universal Credit is not available to the self-employed. But if you are on Universal Credit and then choose to become self-employed you will be supported until your business grows.

The other benefits combined & how it’s worked out

The amount of money you get is calculated through a comparison of your basic financial needs to what you need to live on with your financial resources. These resources include the support you receive towards housing, children, childcare, if you have a disability, or if you are a carer.

Also note that cohabiting partners who are both eligible for Universal Credit will receive one joint, monthly payment.

How to apply

To be eligible you must be a resident in Great Britain, aged 18 years or over and no longer in education. But in exceptional cases you can claim Universal Credit if you are 16 or 17 years old with no parental support.

Claimants must be below Pension Credit age. But if in a couple and one of you is over Pension Credit age, you’ll both need to claim Universal Credit as a couple until you both reach Pension Credit age.

Find a local adviser to receive support and advice from.

When
Here’s a map of when and where Universal Credit is being rolled out.

Where
And here’s a link to create a secure digital identity to claim Universal Credit (limited service).

Claiming for redundancy and monies owed explained

What do you do if your employer goes bust?

We’ve got some helpful advice for you if you are facing the worrying prospect of not being paid because your employer has gone out of business. This simple, straightforward guide summarizes what you can do to ensure that you are compensated for work you have done.

We’ve divided things up into three areas based on the type of financial strife your workplace is experiencing. But please be advised this is only guidance. For comprehensive help take a look at the links at the end of this blog.

Administration

A business that goes into administration may be saved by transfer, in part or whole, to a new buyer.

The process
Administrators have 14 days following their appointment to decide if employees will be dismissed.

If they choose to dismiss employees within the 14 day period, the former employees become “ordinary creditors” and have to get in line for payment along with other suppliers and creditors.

If they choose to retain the employees beyond the 14 day period, the employees become “preferential creditors”, which means they are more likely to receive outstanding salary or redundancy payments.

Buyer found
Once a buyer has acquired the business, employees will be transferred to the new owner. In this case employees rights are protected under the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection from Employment) Regulations. It will include your continuity of employment and any payments owed.

Redundancy
Once made redundant there is no transfer of terms and there is no continuity of employment even if rehired by the new owner.

To claim Statutory Redundancy Pay you must meet one of these conditions:

  • Continuous employment for two or more years with your employer
  • Apply in writing to your employer or an employment tribunal within 6 months of your job ending

Claim by filling out form RP1, which you can get by calling the redundancy payments enquiry line.
Telephone: 0330 331 0020
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
Find out about call charges
Find out more by reading the redundancy payments factsheet.

Insolvency

A business becomes insolvent when it is declared bankrupt. Employees in this scenario will be made redundant. However an insolvent business maybe unable to make any redundancy payments so in this case you can claim payments from the National Insurance fund.  

Claims must be made to the Insolvency Service. Find out how to make a claim on the GOV.UK website.

Also note the terms stated in the Insolvency Act 1986. It states that only preferential creditors are entitled to their outstanding salary (including commission) for the four month period preceding the insolvency and up to £800. This also includes accrued holiday pay (up to six weeks) and certain occupational pension payments. Additional monies owed including payments related to periods longer than four months are classed as ordinary debt.

Liquidation

The business stops and you will no longer have a job.

The National Insurance Fund (NIF)
To qualify for NIF payments your employer must be insolvent and your employment terminated.

Before making an application you must have done everything you can to get your payment, this includes writing to your insolvent employer within six months of your end employment date to ask for payment.

NIF claims have limits:

  • There’s a cap of £430 a week for unpaid salary up to a maximum of 8 weeks.
  • Up to 6 weeks holiday pay to a maximum of £800.
  • Outstanding statutory notice up to a maximum of £430 a week.
  • The statutory minimum notice is one week for every year worked, up to 12 weeks.

Claim for redundancy and monies owed

Redundancy and your rights

Your rights if your employer becomes insolvent

How to claim your state pension online

Claiming your state pension online is pretty simple. Here we will show you exactly what you need to do.

To claim your State Pension online you must meet the following conditions:

  • be claiming for yourself
  • be within four months of State Pension age, or older
  • not want to defer your State Pension
  • have a National Insurance number
  • have a UK bank, building society or Post Office card account
  • not be receiving, or be in the process of claiming Graduated Retirement Pension, War Widow’s or Widower’s Pension, Bereavement Benefit, Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit, Income Support, Industrial Death Benefit, Industrial Injuries Disablement Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit or Severe Disablement Allowance

Information you must have to complete your application: 

  • your National Insurance number
  • your current address and postcode, plus your last two addresses
  • your tax reference number (you can find this on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) forms P45 or P60, or any letter you’ve received from HMRC about tax)
  • if you’re married or in a civil partnership (or have been in the past), you will need to confirm your husband, wife or civil partner’s details (this includes their National Insurance number and the date of your marriage or civil partnership)
  • if you’re divorced or widowed, your civil partnership has dissolved or you’re a surviving civil partner, you’ll need to confirm the date you were divorced or widowed
  • details of any social security benefits or entitlements that you or your husband, wife or civil partner are getting or waiting to hear about
  • the address of any employer you’ve worked for in the last two years, and the dates you worked for them
  • if you’ve ever lived or worked abroad, you should confirm your social security number and the dates you were abroad
  • an account number where you want your State Pension paid

To claim your state pension online go to GOV.UK claim state pension online.

Check your state pension using SecureIdentity and GOV.UK

Just want to check the state pension you’re already claiming? The quickest and easiest way to do this is by using the SecureIdentity Simple-Sign-In app. It’ll take no more than 10 to 15 minutes to complete the process.

Car rental abroad without a counterfoil

The Government has made the driving licence counterpart obsolete. It’s been replaced with the Drivers Summary.  Now the real impact of the change is becoming apparent, especially when you want to rent a car in the UK or abroad.

What’s the change?

The paper based counterfoil was rarely needed. Usually, you’d end up looking for it just before you went on holiday because you might need to rent a car.

The new Drivers Summary does basically the same job as the old counterfoil. The main difference is that the Drivers Summary is valid for just 21 days. For this reason, it’s worth making preparations if you plan to rent a car, or several cars when you are travelling.

Some things to remember

The counterpart is obsolete: it’s no longer accepted anywhere.

The car rental company should ask to see a copy of your summary, or ask you for a driving licence check code so they can access these details themselves online.

If you need to do this while you are travelling, or if you need to rent several cars within a short space of time, the Simple-Sign-In app from SecureIdentity can be handy. It’s an easy way to access the DVLA services you need.

When you use SecureIdentity’s simple sign-in process, you’ll be able to access and share your driving details whenever you want quickly and easily  without having to remember long passwords,

A quick guide to car rental abroad

Here’s our quick guide to car rental abroad and the new Drivers Summary document that more and more car rental companies will be asking you for when you rent in the UK, Europe and worldwide.

In June 2015 the driving licence counterfoil, which records penalty points and fines, became obsolete. Now, to hire a car, you need to provide your driving history by logging onto the GOV.UK website and generating a Drivers Summary (or getting a Drivers Summary code).

It’s a simple process, if you remember your national insurance number and have your driving licence number and postcode. They all need to be entered into the GOV.UK website to obtain a code. You can then use this code once and it’s valid for 21 days.

If you need to hire a car again you have to log-on again to obtain a new code. A driver can have up to 15 check codes active at any one time.

One of the positive points is that anyone can check a driving record once they have been provided with a check code by logging onto https://www.gov.uk/check-driving-information. The driver no longer needs to be physically present to show the driving licence counterfoil.

View or Share your Driving Licence Information the Easy Way

Now you can use SecureIdentity to access this service at GOV.UK. In the past you’ve always needed your driving licence number, national insurance number and your postcode, which may not be details you find easy to remember or always have to hand.

Road blocks
The Drivers Summary system is new. Car rental companies in the UK are familiar with it, but some rental companies abroad may still be coming to terms with the change. It’s worth contacting your chosen car rental firm to confirm whether they are aware of the new system and require a Drivers Summary or your driving details code.

Exceptions
The new law at present is not applicable to driving licences in Northern Ireland or older paper-only licences.

Extras
When you are hiring a car abroad you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) too. This is worth checking before you leave.  Apply for it through the AA, RAC or the Post Office.

If you will be driving in countries beyond the continent do check the Foreign Office website for useful advice.