Headlines: September 11th, 2008

Local Government is behind the times when it comes to identity authentication according to a new report from global information services company Experian. Its research shows that by contrast citizens are embracing new technology and two thirds of them want to access services online.

Experian says people want to apply online for council tax and housing benefits, parking permits and travel cards, but 92 per cent of councils that responded to the study still relied on fraud-friendly paper processes to prove identity. Experian says this leaves citizens with the option of visiting offices in person or sending valuable ID documents by post. A third of people said that process was inconvenient.

Key findings in the Experian/YouGov survey of 189 Local Government executives who are responsible for managing services and benefits that require proof of ID, show 67 per cent of them said ID or residency fraud was a problem. A fifth of the executives felt there was no risk at all in storing identity documents onsite, but of more than half who said customers could apply for services online, only 8 per cent said their ID verification process was automated.

In contrast, a survey of 1143 consumers found that 40 per cent of them thought the provision of services over the internet was the most significant improvement Government could make to customer service.

Chris Bartlett, Head of Justice, Home Affairs and Security at Experian, said, “The Transformational Government report makes it clear that the Government must try to keep up with the pace of technological change to remain efficient and trustworthy. Electronic authentication of identity is a good example of how this can be done.”