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?

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.

What saves more money – company car or car allowance?

Is a company car the best way to save money on your tax bill or is it more tax efficient to opt for the company car allowance? Both perks have their own pluses and negatives in terms of the tax breaks on offer.

One of the quickest ways to work out the best option for you is to use the handy cash or car decision tool provided by Comcar. Just enter the make and model of car you’re considering, add the monthly allowance your company makes available plus your Monthly PCP/PCH payment and the decision tool will calculate the best option for you in seconds.

In addition, the HMRC website provides all the detail you need and offers it’s own useful online calculator to help you assess your company car options.

As you’d expect, the accuracy of the calculation depends on the level of detail you are able to provide regarding the age of the car, fuel type, CO2 emissions, engine size and list price of the car, along with other information.

An allowance is paid as part of your salary, meaning it is taxed at the normal rate.

Do remember that if you are likely to have quite high private mileage then the allowance is likely to be the better option.

How to save money with company car tax bands

An environmentally friendly company car fleet will reduce the negative impact on the planet and reduce your tax bill as new company car tax bands are introduced.

From the tax year 2020/21 there will be 15 new bandings for taxing a car, with 11 bands for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs).

The Government has designed the new bandings to encourage the take-up of the cleanest electric and hybrid cars.

HMRC is proposing a new company car tax band with 50m/km as the new threshold for ULEVs. The ULEV CO2 emissions value consists of the capacity for zero emission miles and the level of CO2 produced when the car runs on a conventional combustion engine.

For the best tax breaks: if given the choice, opt for a ULEV. These vehicles will be given favourable, lower tax rates soon, although the exact rate has yet to be finalised.

Use SecureIdentity to check the company car tax band you are paying now.