One Login to rule ’em all – UK looks to single digital ID for public services

The UK's One Login for Government is expected to go live in April 2022, making multiple public services available with one set of credentials.
28 March 2022

Britain’s Prince Charles, views The Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI) Fashion Coalition’s Digital ID, a virtual certificate that records each fashion item’s history, as he stands with members of the coalition, which includes CEOs from some of the leading fashion houses including Giorgio Armani, Mulberry and Chloe. (Photo by Aaron Chown / POOL / AFP)

  • The UK government’s flagship project dubbed One Login for digitising public services’ will be fully deployed by 2025
  • Reports have estimated that implementing One Login may cost the country around US$550 million
  • The digital ID system can help the government fight fraud. The UK government loses £52 billion to fraud every year and costs taxpayers up to £1 billion every week

The UK government has announced that it has selected Deloitte to develop a digital identity mobile application to enable access to public services in the country. The secure one-stop-shop app, aptly coined One Login for Government, will allow citizens to prove their identity online and access government services.

One Login to digitize public services

The UK government’s flagship project for digitizing public services’ is expected to go live in April 2022 and will be fully deployed by 2025. The One Login project will see a single online account for citizens to access all the public services they are entitled to, from healthcare and benefits to education and housing.

This will include a universal digital identity platform, which will allow people to log in securely to multiple services with one set of credentials. Reports have estimated that implementing One Login may cost the country around US$550 million.

The initial project was dubbed GOV.UK Verify, and has been ongoing for almost close to a decade. It has consistently been plagued with technical issues and suffered a lack of support from some government departments.

One Login challenges in the UK

When it comes to digital identity, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Different countries have adopted different models, each with its advantages and disadvantages.

The UK Government has been working on developing a UK digital ID for citizens for a few years now. However, there are some challenges that the government faces in terms of implementation.

One of the challenges is ensuring that the system is secure, user-friendly, and does not put citizens’ privacy at risk. According to a survey by Statista on current attitudes towards online personal data use and privacy carried out in the UK in 2021, more than half of the respondents said they were more concerned about their online privacy than a year ago.

Another challenge is getting people to use the digital ID system, as many people particularly of a certain age are still reluctant. There is the question of how to roll out the system so that most UK citizens adopt it.

According to the 2022 Digital Trust Report by digital Okta, 76% of the British public would be comfortable incorporating their data into a digital ID card. However, 34% of the population don’t trust the government’s digital services — this is due to overcomplicated transactions (21%), data fears (56%), and past issues when using digital services (20%).

Lessons from the Baltic Sea coast

Estonia was one of the first countries in Europe to embrace digital identity verification. All its services and critical databases are hosted in a secure data center in Luxembourg.

Citizens of Estonia can access all government services online, including voting, tax returns, and even medical records. The country’s eID is a secure identity authentication system underlying the function of all digital services, including the digital signature. This includes e-health and e-prescription, and Estonia is the first country in the cloud.

It is reported that 99% of Estonians have an ID card, and as of 2021, 1.4 billion digital signatures have been made.

Will the UK government benefit from digital IDs?

The digital ID system can help the government fight fraud. The UK government loses US$68.59 billion (£52 billion) to fraud every year and costs taxpayers up to US$1.32 billion (£1 billion)  every week.

The number of alleged fraud cases heard in UK Crown Courts in 2021 went up by 66% compared to the same time in 2020. According to The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau figures, 80% of reported fraud is cyber-enabled.

The Fraud Barometer data revealed that fraud relating to cyberattacks or the trading of stolen data rose significantly from one case worth US$12.14 million (approximately £9.2 million) in 2020.