Ditching ID cards would save more than £3 billion

ID Card

Scrapping the controversial ID card scheme would save the government more than 3 billion, according to public sector analysts Kable.

Rolling out the National Identity Scheme will cost around 4.95 billion for the next 10 years. That includes identity cards, biometric passports and the database to back them up.

If elected, the Conservative Party has promised to ditch the controversial ID card scheme. The card for British citizens was unveiled last month, while foreign nationals are already being handed the cards.

If the ID cards, National Identity Register and fingerprints on passports were all dropped, the government would save 3.08 billion. Ditching the cards and the database, but keeping the fingerprinting system, would save 2.2 billion - suggesting such biometrics will cost just under a billion.

Fingerprinting is so expensive because it means those needing a new passport must apply in person, rather than through the post. According to Kable, the government will be recording all 10 fingerprints, but only embed two on the microchips of passports and ID cards.

"The cancellation would impact almost every aspect of the National Identity Scheme," said Philippe Martin, senior analyst at Kable and the report's author, said in a statement.

"Not only will it avoid the cost of producing the cards, but it will also reduce the large distribution costs associated with sending new or renewed cards for those which have been lost or stolen," he added. "It would also reduce the cost of application, enrolment and call centre processing."

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