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LSE researchers respond to the government's third costed report on UK Identity Card Scheme

The LSE Identity Project welcomes the timely publication of the third section 37 cost report on the Government's plans for identity cards.

The report provides an update on the government's estimated cost of the Scheme for the next ten years. It also signals the likely timescale for the full rollout of identity cards to British and Irish citizens resident in the UK with significant numbers of identity cards only beginning to be issued in the period from April 2010.

The reported figures differ from previous cost estimates in three ways:

  • An apparent reduction in the forecast for future passport volumes
  • A reduction in the operating cost of producing and delivering passports and identity cards containing fingerprint biometrics
  • Adjustments to the total cost of the Scheme arising from a different reporting period (October 2007-October 2017 rather than April 2007-April 2017)

The first two items result in a reduction of costs for the Identity Cards Scheme of £185 million over ten years (or around three per cent of the total), with the third item accounting for a £65 million increase.

The government also plans to use the same technologies and infrastructure to introduce Biometric Immigration Documents for third country nationals (from outside the European Economic Area) and similar cost differences arise in this area, ie a net decrease in the BID costs of £24 million plus an additional £7 million in BID costs to account for the change in reporting period.

Dr Edgar A Whitley of the LSE Identity Project said: 'While we welcome the projected cost savings associated with the recording and use of fingerprint biometrics, we remain puzzled by the lack of other savings associated with the decision to reuse existing government databases rather than build a new, secure National Identity Register from scratch. Similarly, we would have expected the decision to not use costly iris biometrics for the Scheme at this time to have led to a significant decrease on the overall cost of the Scheme'.

A more detailed response to the report will be published by the LSE Identity Project shortly.

For LSE research and reports on identity policy please see http://identityproject.lse.ac.uk|



Dr Edgar A Whitley, reader in information systems at LSE, by calling 020 7955 7410, or by emailing e.a.whitley@lse.ac.uk|

8 November 2007