£31m poured into ID cards scheme

Government has spent millions setting up the National Identity Scheme over the past financial year, according to Home Office figures

The ID cards scheme has cost more than £30m over the past financial year.

During the year ending 31 March, 2007, the government spent £30.9m on setting up the National Identity Scheme (NIS) — up from the £27.7m expenditure in the previous year, according to Home Office figures.

The £30.9m NIS-incurred expenditure was short of the initial budget of £55m, according to the Home Office Identity and Passport Service (IPS) Annual report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2007.

The report said: "At the mid-year position this financial plan was revised due to the shift in emphasis to utilising existing public- and private-sector infrastructure to deliver the NIS, thus reducing planned procurement activity within the year."

Last year, James Hall, chief executive of IPS, revealed the ID cards procurement timetable and said the "current best estimate" for the next ID cards procurement activity was April or May 2007.

More than 4.8 million biometric passports have also been dished out during the past financial year, with the IPS posting a deficit of £2.1m on its passport services — which is lower than the planned deficit of £15m, the report reveals.

The government estimates the ID cards scheme will cost more than £5.5bn to set up and run over the next 10 years, a figure which has been disputed by the London School of Economics, which forecasts the price could come in at almost £30bn.