Scrapping UK ID cards could save £3bn


Scrapping UK ID cards could save £3bn

Warwick Ashford

Scrapping controversial elements of the UK national identity scheme would save taxpayers more than £3bn over the next 10 years, research has shown.

Analysis of the scheme by public sector research firm Kable found that the cost of £4.95bn would be slashed to £1.88bn if plans for an ID card, identity register and fingerprints on passports are dropped.

The Labour party has already revised its plans to trim £700m and the Conservative Party has pledged to cancel the ID card and register in the face of growing criticism.

The security of the planned ID cards has been challenged, but the government has rejected claims that the cards are easily hacked and cloned.

The Conservative party is yet to confirm its policy on fingerprinting for passports.

The research found that even if fingerprint data is included in passports, savings of £2.2bn could be achieved by scrapping other parts of the scheme.

"The cancellation would impact almost every aspect of the National Identity Scheme," said Philippe Martin, senior analyst at Kable.

In addition to avoiding the cost of producing ID cards, the move will eliminate costs for enrolment, processing and distribution, he said.

Martin predicted that the passport will remain the primary authentication document for interaction with the state. "However, new authentication systems are likely to be put in place to enable secure online interaction with the state," he said.

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