Vaccine passport ID checks cost taxpayers millions among spiralling Covid costs

The Scottish Government has signed a £3.3m contract with a tech company to develop ID verification for the vaccine passport scheme.

The figure comes alongside a host of other Covid-19 costs which were published on the Public Contracts Scotland website this week.

Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme was dogged by technical issues when it was launched at the start of October, with people on social media reporting they were unable to gain access to their vaccine status.

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The Covid Status App included a requirement for individuals to upload an identification document such as a passport or driving licence and take a picture of themselves to verify their identity.

Vaccine passports may be extendedVaccine passports may be extended
Vaccine passports may be extended

Many people reported this aspect of the app did not work, while others were able to be verified but not gain access to their vaccine status.

The botched roll-out of the app led to Nicola Sturgeon apologising for the “deeply regrettable” error, acknowledging the “deep frustration” it has caused.

New contracts reveal that the US tech firm Jumio was given the contract for the identity verification services for the Covid certification app, with NHS Scotland shelling out up to £3.3m for the continued use of the service.

The total amount paid to the company was £3,317,360, the Public Contracts Scotland website states.

A further contract worth up to £1.2m has been agreed by the Scottish Government with Netcompany as part of its vaccine certification scheme, which includes the cost of extending “the use of this solution [the app] beyond travel into domestic certification”.

The deputy first minister, John Swinney, has said the government is considering extending the scheme into more venues, a move that was backed by a key adviser to Nicola Sturgeon, Professor Devi Sridhar.

The public health expert called on the government to include venues such as cafes and gyms in the scheme.

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Alongside the multi-million pound cost for identity checks, the Scottish Government has also been forced to shell out almost £2m to help support its vaccine rollout and contact tracing programme.

A £300,000 contract was also awarded by NHS National Services Scotland to DXC Technology, an American tech firm to help shore up the booking and scheduling system for vaccination appointments.

The contract notice states that there is “insufficient capacity” within the scheduling team to “resource all demand” after the Scottish Government asked to accelerate the roll-out of the vaccines.

It goes on to detail that staff are “working excessive hours, including evenings and weekends in attempt to cover”.

It adds: “There was an immediate need to have additional operational support to be able to support the immediate vaccination rollout programme.”

More than £1.5m is being spent on the case management system in use at the National Contact Tracing Centre, with the NHS stating an additional 710 licences are needed “due to the increase in positive cases in Scotland”.

The initial contract, purchased from US giant ServiceNow, cost £650,000, but the NHS has doubled the number of licences since from 1,500 to 3,100.

It is estimated around £300,000 of the new contract is additional licences.

The Scottish Government was contacted for comment.

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