What does Government think it knows about you?

EU citizens, and others, are rightly concerned about the sources of data that Her Majesty’s Government will use to do data-matching as it decides who has residency, and who does not. In general, data quality across Government is terrible.

Indeed, many key Government data systems are a mess. Some progress has been made in the last decade – for example, DWP’s core system now has only around 80 million active records today for 60 million people, down from nearly 120 million a few years ago.

Improvements like this provide little reassurance however to anyone wanting to know if the system will work properly for them, or their family.

Using currently available tools therefore, this is how you can find out what activity history DWP / HMRC / DVLA hold on you. N.B. This applies to British citizens too; would you receive residency if the Home Office decided you suddenly weren’t British enough?

To check:

HMRC (tax payments):  https://www.gov.uk/personal-tax-account  

DWP (NI contributions): https://www.gov.uk/check-state-pension   

DVLA (driver’s license): https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence

UPDATE: The Home Office ‘EU Settlement Scheme: Statement of Intent’, issued on 21 June 2018, confirms in paragraph 5.2 that the online application process will be checking HMRC data and “in due course” data held by DWP as well. (The Home Office may or may not check DVLA data for ‘settled status’, which is linked for many by their passport photo and signature.)

To get a copy of your records, you will be asked to use your ‘GOV.UK Verify’ account something you can set up the first time you need one. Replacing the Home Office’s flawed ID cards scheme, GOV.UK Verify uses a small number of certified ‘identity providers’ to assure your identity, rather than forcing the Home Office to spell your name right in its files (that it refuses to show you).

You can create a GOV.UK Verify account (or multiple accounts with different non-Governmental providers, such as the Royal Mail or the Post Office) using the provider that works best for you some providers have iPhone apps if you have an iPhone, and some work even if you don’t have a mobile phone at all. Providers use different evidence to confirm identity, so if one doesn’t work for you, try another one. (Post Office seems to work well for people with official documents, or you could try Experian if your history is mostly related to finance.)

When you find mistakes in your data… if the information that any or all of these Departments hold about you is wrong, the services I’ve linked to above tell you how to start the process of correcting it with them. (It probably helps to know that the helplines they provide are staffed by people who are measured by whether they helped you or not, rather than whether they pissed you off or not.)


About me:

From 2004-2011, I was the national coordinator of NO2ID, which successfully campaigned to abolish the ID cards scheme in the UK. The Windrush scandal is appalling enough, but it would have been orders of magnitude worse had the Home Office cancelled the victims’ mandatory ID cards, that everyone was told to assume legal residents would have – it cancelled their passports after all.

The only thing that ID cards will cause is more misery. If ‘punishment cards’ are proposed by either side of Brexit, it just shows they have no new ideas for the future – they are simply grasping for the failures of the past. While no solution’s ever perfect, we keep a close eye on what Government is doing with identity and at this point it’s GOV.UK Verify or an ID cards scheme run by the most punitive Home Office the country has ever seen.

Pick a side.

I now coordinate medConfidential with Sam Smith (who has a companion piece), helping protect the confidentiality of your medical records. We take donations (and sell badges!).


This entry was posted in database state, GDS, ID cards, identity, NO2ID, privacy, transparency. Bookmark the permalink.

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