Monday, May 30, 2005

ID cards to cost £300 per person

The government's plans to introduce identity cards were dealt a body blow last night after it emerged the true cost of the scheme could top £18 billion, more than triple the official estimate.

The figure has been calculated by experts at the London School of Economics, who have spent months producing one of the most authoritative analyses of the scheme.

Their findings, which will be published in the next two weeks, will be seized upon by critics of the current ID card bill working its way through parliament. It is likely to spark a backbench rebellion from Labour MPs and be taken up by the Tories and Liberal Democrats, who oppose the government's plans.

Last week the Home Office issued a report which estimated that, over the next decade, the cost of running the scheme, in conjunction with a new biometric passport system, would be £5.8bn. Because the Treasury has insisted the scheme must be self-financing, this works out at an average cost of £93 to each card holder.

But, according to the LSE's analysis, a draft section of which has been obtained by The Observer, the true cost of implementing and running the scheme, will be between £12bn and £18bn. This could make the average cost of a card as high as £300 to every adult, unless government departments are prepared to shoulder some of the financial burden.

Once people are presented with all the facts, they cannot be happy about a national database scheme, trouble is getting people past the 'fear' propaganda which is being used to whip up popular support.


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