Vehicle checks which cost motorists almost £10 million a year have been abolished by the Department for Transport.

Since 2003 drivers who wanted to return a written off car to the road have needed to apply for a vehicle identity check (VIC) to prove their vehicle matched the registration details.

But the scheme - described by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin as an "unnecessary burden" - has been scrapped.

The VIC was introduced to stop vehicle ringing - where criminals make it easier to sell stolen cars by swapping the identity of vehicles no longer economical to repair with a stolen vehicle of a similar make and model.

The DfT said that during the past 12 years around a million checks have been made, resulting in only a handful of cases of wrongdoing.

Officials believe advances in vehicle security already deter the low-level criminals that the VIC scheme was set up to combat, while the development of online resources allow identification to take place without paper checks.

Scrapping the VIC - which had a £41 fee - will save motorists almost £10 million a year and cut around £4.8 million of costs incurred by businesses, the DfT added.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "I'm delighted to scrap this unnecessary burden which Labour created as part of their war on the motorist.

"We are on the side of the honest driver which is why we are restoring common sense to the roads. In the process we are saving drivers and businesses millions every year."

The decision to abolish the scheme was taken following a consultation and review by the DfT.

The Department said it will continue to work with the insurance and motoring industry to protect consumers when purchasing used vehicles.