Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/395/4482
ID cards: £300 for a snooper's card!
THE GOVERNMENT'S plans for compulsory identity (ID) cards are an attack on our democratic rights. The scheme could lead to more harassment of innocent people, more snooping by state authorities and more rationing of public services.
But the problem that could possibly bring these plans tumbling to the ground, for a while at least, is the cost. Last week the government estimated that an ID card could cost £88. That was on the basis of a total expense for the ID scheme of £5.5 billion.
During the week, the cost of both the scheme and the cards showed an inflation rate that would have lost Gordon Brown his job if it had happened in the economy as a whole.
The price went up to £100, then to an incredible £300 per person. That last figure was based on an LSE report that said the scheme's true cost would be between £12 billion and £18 billion, three times as high as previously thought.
If the government still insists that the ID scheme should be self-financing, the average cost of a card could be as high as £300 for every adult.
The report also says that the biometric card-readers needed to scan these cards could cost £3,000 to £4,000 per unit, (the government thought they'd cost £250-£750).
The report's writers also think the government underestimate the cost of re-scanning every five years and of keeping tabs on changing circumstances. And, the researchers ask, what about 'refuseniks'? Plenty of people will refuse to waste good money on a worthless scheme that is more likely to increase 'identity crime' - through a spiralling market in forgeries - than to stop it.
Home Secretary Charles Clarke may try to bring in changes to make ID cards less unpalatable. But the scheme's astronomical cost could prove its biggest weakness.
In The Socialist 2 June 2005: