According to the Government Digital Service (GDS), the trial is relatively small scale and ends at midnight on the 27th January.
It claims the purpose of the test is to learn about how GOV.UK Verify and self-assessment work together for users.
“We’re not seeking to test our ability to handle large volumes and peaks in traffic at this stage and with this service – we’re working on that separately so that we’ll be ready to meet growing demand for GOV.UK Verify across the range of the services,” claimed Janet Hughes, head of policy and engagement for the Identity Assurance Programme.
“We’ll be working gradually towards managing larger volumes of users and peaks in traffic,” she added.
Because the looming self-assessment deadline at the end of January creates HMRC’s busiest period of the year, the trial has limited the numbers of users per minute that is being increased or decreased depending on how things are going.
According to Hughes, the agreed limit is only being hit “infrequently” and so only a very few people have been prevented from accessing the trial.
She also claims the trial has been going well so far, with 3700 people successfully verifying their identity via GOV.UK Verify.
Hughes says that the duration of the trial has already seen some improvements to the service based on user feedback.
HMRC has already made some changes to the way it tells users about the trial within the self-assessment service.
Hughes notes that users accessing the self-assessment service dramatically increase in the last week before the deadline, with 10% of all tax returns filed being done so on the final day.
“As the volumes of people accessing the self-assessment service increases, we don’t want to confuse or frustrate people by having an option that’s not available to everyone all the time because our throttle is at its limit,” she claimed.
“With this in mind, we were initially planning to close the trial to new participants on 24th January, a week ahead of the 31st January self-assessment deadline.
“We’ve now decided to extend this to Tuesday 27th January, just a few days before the deadline, to give more people the option of using GOV.UK Verify,” Hughes explained.
Those who have already used the identity assurance programme before the 27th will still be able to use their credentials right up until the deadline, useful for those who take a few days to fill in their tax submission.
“We’re planning to re-open GOV.UK Verify for self-assessment users fully in mid-February so that people filing their self-assessment returns during the rest of the year will have the option of using GOV.UK Verify, particularly if they’ve lost their Government Gateway credentials or if they’ve already got GOV.UK Verify credentials having used it to access another services,” Hughes claimed.