Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/22/id_card_cost/

ToryDems add up bill for Labour's ID scheme

What does £292m get you these days?

By Joe Fay

Posted in Government, 22nd June 2010 12:36 GMT

The Labour government spent just under £300m to develop the ID card and biometric passport schemes unceremoniously dumped by the ToryDems this month.

The figures came in a commons answer on Monday. Conservative MP Richard Harrington asked "what recent representations she has received on the cost of the identity cards scheme?"

Damian Green said that the Home Office had spent "£41 million developing the policy, legislation and business case for the introduction of identity cards".

In 2006, the scheme was transferred to the newly created Identity and Passport service, which spent another "£251 million on projects to establish identity cards, second biometric passports and other related programmes".

Assessments of the likely cost of the ID card scheme varied wildly, with the government's cosy £5bn odd in stark contrast to the LSE's estimate of as much as £19bn. Part of the difference was the fact that the gov was only including its own costs, and not the costs to businesses and other organisations in terms of readers for the cards.

Home Secretary Theresa May said last week that scrapping the plan would save £86m over the next four years, and £800m over the next decade. The "net cost" of the bill will be £5m this year covering termination of contracts, contacting card holders, and laying off staff that can't redeployed.

The scheme was always meant to be self-financing. Just shy of 15,000 people actually got cards before the scheme was scrapped, which at £30 a pop adds up to... £450,000.®