The Home Office believes the CSCS could provide a successful prototype for such an ID card and is carrying out a consultation exercise on the feasibility of introducing the cards. It wants to examine whether they would be an effective way of clamping down on illegal immigrants working in the UK.
It is understood that the Home Office believes the construction industry is keen on using the data obtained by the CSCS to examine whether the skills-based scheme could be expanded into a broader identification scheme.
A DTI spokesperson refused to be drawn on such proposals. He said the department was unaware of any plans to scrap the CSCS.
However, a Whitehall source said that CSCS chairman Tony Merricks was in talks with the government over extra funding so that the CSCS could be remodelled.
The source said Merricks would argue that the CSCS is a success, with more than half a million workers registered, and could be expanded to include passport and identification details.
The source said it was felt that the Home Office could build on this scheme to create an ID card.
He said: "It is more likely that CSCS will be improved so that it will have a worker's driving licence and passport details on it. But if the government is bringing in its own scheme it may well want to take over and supersede the CSCS card."
The source added that, given the construction industry's skills shortage, an ID card scheme could help register immigrants entering the country and provide a way of recording their skills and qualifications so they could obtain a job quickly.
Merricks was unavailable for comment as Building went to press.