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Embargoed until: 0600 hours, Saturday 30 October 2010


The UK Passport Validation Service whose income is it anyway?

30 October 2010

You will need no reminding that,
according to note 5d
on p.44
of the annual report and accounts for the Identity & Passport Service (IPS),
in 2009-10,
various organisations paid 467,000
to use IPS's Passport Validation Service (PVS).
PVS allows DWP, HMRC, the Chelsea Building Society and others
to check that a passport offered as proof of identity
has not been reported lost or stolen.
Fraud, it is said, is thereby reduced.
    Who provides the passport data? Passport-holders.
    Who pays for the passports? Passport-holders.
    Who gets the 467,000? Not passport-holders.
    And that's wrong, isn't it.
We are already paying 77.50 for a 10-year adult passport,
when the natural price is more like 23.
There are all sorts of reasons why we are being over-charged,
but no excuses.
That will no doubt quickly be corrected by IPS
perhaps with additional moral fibre provided by the National Audit Office.
But there is no reason to stop at 23.
The price could be driven down further still
by paying the income from PVS
to its rightful owners passport-holders.

Notes to editors:
1. 467,000 p.a. is not a lot of money in the context of UK passports. If it was given back to passport-holders, it would reduce the price of a passport by approximately 10p. 23 would become 22.90. But suppose IPS manage to sell PVS to more users and that income goes up from 467,000 to 4.67 million or even 46.7 million. Then the figures become more interesting, 23 becomes 22 or even 13.
2. At whatever level, whether 467,000 or 46.7 million, that PVS income properly belongs to passport-holders and to no-one else. IPS cannot be allowed to appropriate it. Nor can anyone else. It is sensible to make that point now, while PVS income is low and while it is easy for IPS and others to give it up precisely because there isn't much of it.
3. What are the chances of IPS being able to increase PVS income by a factor of 100? On past performance, not high. Last time they tried to insert themselves into the nation's payment systems, the Crosby Forum told them in no uncertain terms where they get off. But IPS are under new management now.
4. If IPS can't increase the income from PVS beyond its present paltry level, then they should save the taxpayer a bit of money by dropping it.

About Business Consultancy Services Ltd (BCSL):
BCSL has operated as an IT consultancy since 1984. The past 7 years have been spent campaigning against the Home Office's plans to introduce government ID cards into the UK. It must now be admitted that the Labour government were much better at convincing people that
these plans were a bad idea than anyone else, including BCSL.

Press contacts: David Moss,