Research from public sector analysts Kable suggests that the UK could save up to £3.1bn if controversial plans for a national ID card scheme were scrapped.
The study found that the cost of the identity cards, the National Identity Register and fingerprints on passports could save £3.08bn. Even if fingerprint data was to be included in passports, savings of £2.2bn could be achieved by scrapping the other parts of the scheme.
"The cancellation would impact almost every aspect of the National Identity Scheme," said Philippe Martin, senior analyst at Kable and the report's author.
"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. It would also reduce the cost of application, enrolment and callcentre processing.”
"The National Biometric identification system (NBIS) would have to deal with a smaller portion of the population as it would no longer include non-passport holders over the age of 16. Also, the subsequent costs of managing the ID card part of the scheme would also vanish.”
The Conservatives have vowed to scrap the ID card scheme and Labour has been steadily cutting back on plans for the cards in the face of rising public disenchantment and increasing costs.
The cards themselves may also be more unreliable than previously thought. Researchers claim that the cards are easily hacked, something the government denies.
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