ID card scheme to cost £5.4bn

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Indy Politics

The national identity card scheme will cost £5.4 billion to set up and run over the next 10 years, the Home Office revealed today.

It was the first time the Government had set out a total cost for the controversial project, which will force every adult to pay for a "biometric" card which stores fingerprint and iris scan details.

The Home Office stressed the figures were "likely costs" and "estimates".

About 70% of the total would be spent on issuing the new generation of biometric passports - set to be the forerunner of the ID cards - and approximately 15 per cent would go on technology required for the project.

The £5.4 billion estimate includes all the set-up costs, as well as operating and maintaining the infrastructure until October 2016.

It also includes £100 million of VAT which is unrecoverable to the Identity and Passport Service but retained by the Treasury.

However, the report excluded some set-up costs that were included in a previous report published by the Home Office in May last year, which put the annual total at £584 million, or £5.8 billion over a decade.

Home Office Minister Liam Byrne confirmed that ID cards will be "implemented rapidly", starting with biometric cards for foreign nationals in 2008.

He 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."

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