Smart card plan for tax and benefits

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The Independent Online
The Government is developing smart cards which will allow people to pay taxes, claim benefits and apply for a passport without having to fill in a form, it was reported last night.

Scientists are working on technology that would provide each person with a unique security code for the cards which could be used in kiosks similar to telephone boxes. Ministers believe the cards will drastically reduce benefit fraud and streamline the process of Government.

But the introduction of the cards is likely to be resisted by civil liberties groups who will accuse the Government of trying to introduce identity cards through the back door.

The card is one of the key proposals expected to be included in the Better Government White Paper next year. Peter Kilfoyle, the public services minister, said the cards would not be compulsory but admitted that it could become difficult to operate without one in the future.