17. 04. 2024

How will closure of Government Gateway affect accountants?

How will closure of Government Gateway affect accountants?

In the last three years, the government has been actively promoting the upcoming launch of its One Login platform, which has been designed to give users access to all online government services via a single login instead of using Government Gateway.

The One Login initiative has been established to replace the current, disparate methods used to access various government services, which are very disconnected and leave users having to manage multiple usernames and passwords to access varying departments and services.  

With the One Login initiative, the ambition is to a create a platform which provides access to all major government departments via a single identity. Once users have verified their identity, they will have a central place to access government services without having to create separate accounts or passwords for each department.

According to the government, the service will replace more than 190 different ways people can currently set up accounts to access services on gov.uk, providing one fast, simple and secure route. The aim is to improve security, cut costs and provide a far more streamlined service for users.

This is positive news, because inconvenience has plagued government online services for years, so a more user-friendly experience is undoubtedly a good thing. But it’s not just citizens that are set to benefit from the project.

The Government Gateway platform is set to be one of the first to transition to the new way of accessing services, with the beginning of the migration starting in spring 2024.

Access for accountants

Government Gateway access is undoubtedly one of the biggest sources of friction that accountancy firms and tax advisors face on a daily basis, so anything to alleviate this burden will receive a positive response.

Currently, many accountancy firms lose valuable time everyday logging into Government Gateway to access client tax accountants. The process is often cumbersome and necessitates accountants sharing passwords among team members, which seriously jeopardises security and compromises productivity.

Firstly, there is the sheer volume of accounts to manage. Secondly, accountants often have to login to client Government Gateway accounts multiple times every day, but sourcing the correct, up-to-date login details for each account, then manually typing these details into the HMRC website is a tiresome process. It takes seven steps in total and absorbs valuable minutes of accountants’ time every day. Time which could be put towards profit-driving initiatives.

With access to Government Gateway accounts being shared across multiple members of the workforce, this also introduces the risk of one user locking out all users from Government Gateway accounts if they use an incorrect password. This can cause a productivity block for all users who need access to that account.

Additionally, many firms admit to storing client Government Gateway logins in shared documents on the server, while others use physical filing systems, or in some cases, these sensitive details are stored on post-it notes on computer screens and shared among team members using email or messaging applications.

None of these methods are secure. This means the process of managing Government Gateway is not only cumbersome, but it also exposes accountancy firms to the risks of data breaches and regulatory compliance fines.

The government has not yet revealed exactly how the new service will work for accountancy firms, but experts believe the platform will make it easier for them to access multiple client accounts via a single login, providing a more seamless and secure process. Furthermore, the government will also be offering two-factor authentication for users, which will enhance security and act as a strong defence against phishing attacks.

The timescales for a service that fulfils the needs of accountancy firms are not entirely clear so it might be some time before they fully reap the benefits. But, with productivity and security at stake, is there anything they can do to tackle these important issues today and simplify the transition when it comes?

Single point of access

For accountancy firms wanting to tackle Government Gateway efficiency and security issues, there are platforms available which provide one-click access to all their client and agent service accounts (ASA), removing the need to manage multiple Government Gateway IDs and passwords. This replaces the current cumbersome, time-consuming process, while introducing time savings and productivity gains.

Modern identity management solutions can be relied upon to provide access to Government Gateway accounts without accountants ever having to see, know or manage passwords.

The workforce simply logs into the corporate network, and they are provided with access to all the identities and shared accounts they are authorised to use. The solutions also provide a full audit trail, and access can automatically be revoked for former employees when they leave.

Furthermore, they will also be able to fully integrate with the Government’s One Login process, future-proofing the security and productivity of accountancy firms.

In summary, these solutions provide valuable productivity and security gains for accountancy firms, freeing them up to focus their energies on more important business activities, providing a significant win for all.

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