09/10/2006

Cost of ID card scheme revealed

The government has revealed that the cost of the controversial ID card scheme will be £5.4 million over the next ten years.

It is the first time that a figure for the total cost of the project, including all the set-up and operational costs of the scheme, has been released.

Around 70% of the costs would be incurred in the issuing of new generation biometric passports - incorporating fingerprints as well as facial images - while another 15% would relate to technology with the vast majority of estimated costs relating to the people and premises necessary to interview passport and ID card applicants, detecting and deterring fraudulent applications.

Home Officer Minister Liam Byrne said: "ID cards will give us a powerful tool to combat identity fraud which underpins organised crime, terrorism and abuse of the immigration system.

"ID cards will also help transform the delivery of public services to the citizen, making interactions swifter, more reliable and more secure and helping to reduce costs by eliminating wasteful duplication of effort."

Mr Byrne said that the cards would be introduced rapidly, beginning with the introduction of biometric cards, including fingerprints and facial images, for foreign nationals, in 2008. He also said that illegal working would become far more difficult as the scheme got underway.

However, the Conservatives have called for the money to be invested in a new prison building programme instead. Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "The Home Office has an absolutely appalling record for delivering IT based projects on time and budget. Independent experts have predicted this plastic poll tax will in fact cost nearly £20 billion. Some of this money could be spent on a much needed prison building program."

(KMcA)

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