Manchester will become the first city in the UK to give access to ID cards this autumn.

The home office has announced that anyone aged 16+ will be able to apply for the ID card, and maintained that the £5bn scheme could offer real benefits and help fight against crime and terrorism.

The Manchester launch will be the first phase of the ID scheme, which should be available nationwide by 2012.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said that the Home Office is determined to push ahead with the scheme, claiming it will reduce fraud, thus saving money.

“ID cards will deliver real benefits to everyone, including increased protection against criminals, illegal immigrants and terrorists,” she said.

The Conservatives claimed they would scrap the ID card scheme if they were to win the next election.

Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said the Conservatives would not “assuming vast savings”, as the scheme has already begun, and money has already been spent.

The scheme has also raised concerns over personal data, even if the government claims the data accumulated would not be larger that of passports.

“I think it is important to recognise that we’re not collecting some massive accumulation of information about citizens,” said James Hall, chief executive of the Identity and Passport Service.