Digital eligibility checker project enters next phase

Leaders of a project that aims to automate public service eligibility checks to eliminate the need for paper evidence have begun talks with Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on taking the project forward.

The Attribute Exchange could provide savings for central Government and councils, among others, who must currently handle calls and face-to-face contact with residents requesting proof of their status, such as evidence of a disability. 

The programme is led by a partnership of Warwickshire County Council, Government Digital Service (GDS), suppliers Mydex and Verizon and the non-profit trade organisation Open Identity Exchange.

Following user testing of a prototype digital service, discussions are now taking place about how to “engage with the industry” about building upon the programme’s foundations, according to Ian Litton, Programme and Information Manager at Warwickshire County Council. He said a conversation has already begun with the DWP “at a technical level” on taking the initiative further. The development team also plans to engage with “suppliers of third party systems”.

Litton said that the now programme needed local authorities, companies and  Government departments, which were in a position to provide ‘attributes’ relating to eligibility checks, to come forward.

Recent Attribute Exchange prototype user testing sessions saw a group of 13 over-60s apply for a Blue Badge licence for disabled drivers and their carers online. Users were offered the chance to apply for a Disabled Parking Bay Permit in the same transaction. 

Attribute Exchange builds on Identity Assurance (IDA), a common architecture that is available to projects including GDS’s 25 transformation ‘exemplars’, which aims to create a single ubiquitous identity for logging on to securely transact with government services. IDA will go into public Beta stage this month before launching in full.

Last year, Warwickshire County Council carried out an Alpha project with GDS to show that local government could take advantage of the service. 

Mel Poluck

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