In a joint statement, the two Government departments said:
The Home Office and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) are working with DCMS as it develops proposals for new legislation to establish a UK Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework. This framework will set out the rules and standards for organisations to follow in order to carry out secure, trustworthy, and consistent digital identity checks.
The trust framework was initially launched in February 2021 as an early prototype (alpha). It has since undergone two rounds of public consultation, to be thoroughly tested with services, industries, organisations and released to potential users. The framework continues to be developed and the next stage (beta version) will begin in early 2022, ahead of being formalised in legislation.
Following the positive feedback received about the ability to conduct right to work and right to rent checks remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office initiated a review of the availability of specialist technology to support a system of digital checks in the future.
This review has now concluded, and this update sets out the key outcomes.
The Home Office recognises the benefits the adjusted checking process has brought and are mindful of the shift towards increased hybrid and remote working models.
As a result, the Home Office will enable employers and landlords to use certified Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT) service providers to carry out digital identity checks on their behalf for many who are not in scope to use the Home Office online services, including British and Irish citizens. The relevant changes to legislation will take effect from 6 April 2022.
This development will align with DBS’ proposal to enable digital identity checking within their pre-employment checking process, through the introduction of its Identity Trust Scheme.
For employers, the introduction of digital identity checking into the Schemes will mean they can assure prospective employees’ identities, using consistent and more secure methods, reducing risk and allowing them to recruit in a safer way.
Making these changes to the Schemes will achieve two things - it will:
Allow those in scope to verify their identity remotely, prove their eligibility to work or rent and apply for DBS checks. Using IDVT allows people to upload images of their personal documents, instead of presenting physical documents to a prospective employer – reducing time and mitigating risk.
Allow private sector IDVT service providers to become independently certified by UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited assessors to ensure the technology meets the Government Standards and the applicant’s data is protected.
Enabling the use of IDVT for right to work, right to rent and DBS checks will help to support long-term post pandemic working practices, accelerate the recruitment and onboarding process, improve employee mobility and enhance the security and integrity of the checks. The technology utilised across the identity process removes human error in terms of identifying fraudulent documents or inaccuracies and will support the Home Office, DBS and DCMS in driving improvements through their delivery partners.
In January 2022, the UK Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework will open for providers to begin the certification process. IDVT service providers will need to become certified against the trust framework rules, alongside any requirements specific to the particular Schemes. The timing and alignment of the Right to Work, Right to Rent, and DBS Scheme changes ensures providers can undertake a single certification for these checks from the outset.
This will provide a secure underpinning of robust rules for providers to meet, test the real-world implementation of the trust framework during the beta phase of testing, and ensure providers are on track to meet the rules of the future multi-use case state for digital identity solutions.
Further details on how organisations become certified will be available in early January 2022.
In the meantime, checks continue to be necessary in line with current guidance. Employers and landlords must continue to check the prescribed documents as set out in an employer’s guide to right to work checks, published at: Right to work checks: an employer’s guide or the landlord’s guide to right to rent checks, published at: Landlord’s guide to right to rent checks.
Alternatively, where applicable, employers and landlords can use the Home Office online services via Prove your right to work to an employer or Prove your right to rent in England which provides right to work and right to rent information in real time direct from Home Office systems.