ID cards: Available to everyone from next month

Want an ID card? I'd go direct, guv - 0.03 per cent of the population already have

Want an ID card? I'd go direct, guv - 0.03 per cent of the population already have

The government has revealed the latest phase of its ID cards rollout is set to go nationwide from February.

From next month, individuals who have registered their interest in getting an ID card through the Directgov website - or who do so before the end of June - will officially be able to apply for a card, the Home Office announced today.

To date, some 16,000 people across the UK have registered their interest through the site, according to the government. That's roughly 0.03 per cent of the UK's 61 million inhabitants.

The move will be the first time the government has made the cards available to UK residents as a whole - previous phases of the rollout have been restricted to particular areas such as Greater Manchester.

However, anyone wanting to get their ID card through Directgov will only have a matter of months to do so - applications will only be available through the site until 30 June after which time, according to a Home Office spokesman, there are no plans as yet in place to make cards available outside of given rollout areas.

Today has also seen the announcement of the extension of the ID cards scheme to a new geography: from 8 February, youths aged between 16 and 24 who live in London will also be eligible to apply for a card.

The government is hoping to sell the ID card to young people as a way of proving their age.

"The National Identity Card will prove an extremely useful tool for young people in London, whether they are opening a bank account, buying age-restricted goods such as computer games or DVDs, entering a nightclub or travelling to Europe," Meg Hillier, the Home Office minister responsible for identity cards, said in a statement.

ID cards

ID cards are to be offered to young people living in London
(Image credit: Home Office)

Young people are likely to prove an unenthusiastic constituency for the cards, however: a site opened in 2008 to gauge the opinions of those aged 16 to 25 on the scheme saw users brand it "illegal", "totalitarian" and "creepy".

The Home Office says the extension of the scheme to London's young people follows the "successful uptake" of the cards in Greater Manchester and the North West.

To date, around 3,000 ID cards have been issued.