The Home Office has written to trade leaders to confirm its new proof-of-age card scheme can be used in pubs.
Insiders have said Government minister Charles Clarke wrote the letter last month confirming the Connexions card scheme could be used by young people as a proof-of-age card.
The plan, revealed on thePublican.com exclusively last week (Government to trial age cards (31 May 2001)), will be launched in September and rolled out over the next year to cover all areas of England. The cards will be available to 16 to 19-year-olds in education.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE), which is organising the scheme, said last week that a national advertising campaign was being planned to coincide with the launch that would target both young people and licensees.
Ministers have historically objected to such a government-backed card following lobbying by groups that claim it would represent a breach of human rights.
But it is hoped that the Connexions scheme, which is voluntary, will not meet opposition.
A spokeswoman for the DfEE said: "I think the reason the Home Office had not backed a card before was because they did not support a compulsory ID scheme where people were required to carry the cards. The Connexions scheme is voluntary."
The trade has been calling for a national government-backed scheme for some years to end confusion over the number of schemes currently operating.
The Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament are also thought to be considering the scheme.