ID scheme costs rise further

The cost of setting up the National Identity Card Scheme has risen by 37 per cent, according to a report by the Identity and Passport Service (IPS).

In its biannual report on costs, the IPS has established that the cost of setting up the scheme for the decade from October 2007 has risen from 245million to 335million.

In its report the IPS also identified that 40 per cent of costs would be for manufacture and distribution of biometric passports and identity cards. A further 16 per cent would be spent on necessary technology and infrastructure, while 18 per cent of costs would be on business programme management.

The IPS also revealed that in the six months from October 2007 to April 2008 the project has cost 220.

Despite these grim figures, the IPS also announced that the overall cost for passport and ID cards for the period October 2007 to October 2017 has fallen from 5.43 billion to 4.565 billion for British citizens. Meanwhile the overall cost for foreign nationals for the same period has risen from 182 million to 301 million.

The IPS attributed cost cuts during this 10-year period to a reduction in the cost of replacing the passport renewal system and the decision to involve the private sector in collecting biometrics as a cost cutting measure.

However, there are some anti-identity card lobbyists that believe that such savings are the outcome of "creative accounting", in particular the decision to use the private sector to collect biometrics

NO2ID's national coordinator Phil Booth said that he was shocked at the latest figures and at the apparent ineffectiveness of immigration interrogation centres.

"We're used to the Home Office's blatant creative accounting, but this is staggering. Ministers repeatedly asserted that ID registration would involve checking everyone individually and taking their fingerprints. Dropping interrogations and fingerprinting for all may knock a billion off the latest fantasy figures, but it scraps even this fairy-tale notion of security. They are rushing round and round in circles. It is a farce."

However, according to the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in a speech on the future of the National Identity Scheme on 6 March 2008, support for the scheme has remained broadly high.

"Public support for our proposals has remained broadly steady - at nearly 60 per cent - even after a series of high-profile government data losses," Smith said.