Whether in-person, or done digitally as was the norm during the pandemic, the government requires UK firms and landlords to screen potential employees – who will have access to secure data when they join – and tenants to assess their eligibility to live in the UK under the Right to Rent and Right to Work schemes.
Estate agents and landlords who entrust these verification services to digital ID providers expect them to be legitimate, however while the government’s robust trust framework is in place, it currently does not mandate that solution providers that gain contracts for these checks have to be accredited by either the government or private digital ID accreditation schemes.
With scores of solution providers in the marketplace, a recent study has highlighted the number of deceiving companies looking to gain contracts with firms by mimicking language in the trust framework to align their services and gain contracts for Right to Work or Rent checks.
The Home Office is making significant strides towards making certification and accreditation mandatory in the UK to ensure the private sector is appropriately matched with verification providers that meet trust standards.
The recent research carried out by Credas Technologies identified a unique and recent surge of providers that are gaining tenders disingenuously while providing varying standards of technologies.
Despite continual assessment of the Trust Framework, it seems companies at fault will copy language that qualifies them as a “trusted” service, giving agencies and landlords that use their services the impression they are valid when they are not.
Tim Barnett, Chief Executive at Credas Technologies, commented:
“Unfortunately, in recent months we have witnessed real confusion amongst many estate and letting agents between authentic UK Government certification and those being offered by some private companies that hold themselves out to be government certified but are not.”
Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework
The UK’s Digital Identity and Attributes Trust Framework dominantly governs the regulatory environment in England of digital trust services. Introduced in December 2021, it is continually revised and encompasses the robust trust standards by which businesses in multiple sectors (ie. banking, travel, healthcare, media) and public authorities must abide by.
The government consultation on the digital ID policy framework published formal feedback on discussions around how to increase acceptance of trusted digital identities in the ecosystem, not only domestically but also for international trade.
While Right to Work and Rent checks were digital during the pandemic, in-person checks have now resumed with the option of being carried out remotely.
The framework also outlines how IDSPs can be validated to work with companies to complete ID checks.
The Home Office prescribes the nature of the checks required and the information that must be retained by employers and landlords in order to have a statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty.
Whilst it is not mandatory within the Schemes to use a certified IDSP for the purposes of right to work or rent checks, the Home Office recommends employers and landlords use a certified IDSP through the government or a private company scheme.
The responsibility for the check remains with the employer or landlord, and they must ensure the IDSP they select to complete the identity verification element of the check carries out a prescribed check prior to the commencement of employment or tenancy.