back to article Ditching ID cards would save £3bn

If the Tories win the next election and stick to their promises to cancel the ID card scheme, they will save the UK economy over £3bn. Some of the scheme will need to be kept in order to support upgraded passports, but even so the potential savings are huge. The Tories, if they win in June 2010, could cancel adding …


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  1. Anonymous John


    "Trialling the cards with airside workers at City and Manchester airports will now be limited to new staff members, not all workers. ®"

    "ID card please."

    "I'm not a new staff member."

    "OK. Carry on."

  2. Jimmy Floyd

    How times change

    In May 1997, when I was slightly more bolshy than I am now, I never would have thought I might vote Tory. Now I might.

    Actually, I'll almost certainly vote for the candidate with the best chance of unseating our local Labour MP (who is, sadly, an otherwise decent chap). So long as it isn't BNP or UKIP, natch.

  3. Stef 4

    Terrible idea

    We can't get rid of ID cards. If we get rid of ID cards, this country will be overrun with terrorists by noon.

    Everyone knows you can't create a bomb if you have an ID card.

    Mine's the one with 300 fake ID cards in the pockets.

  4. Chris 267

    Tory ISP?

    "They found possible savings of between £1.8bn and £3.1bn."

    So when they say that they'll save "over £3bn", what they mean is "UP TO £3bn"? They sound like an ISP.

  5. Graham Bartlett

    "it gives a distinctive noise"

    Ah, the sound of your tax money at work...

  6. Dale 3

    Lost cards

    The claim that cancelling the ID cards project will save the "large distribution cost associated with sending new cards for those which have been lost or stolen" is moot. Once your ID card is lost or stolen there isn't any point in sending a replacement, you're already permanently screwed.

  7. Tom Chiverton 1

    You forgot

    You forgot that scrapped the ID card programme will also save every one a hundred quid a year in council tax, as local government will not need to undertake the expensive IT work to integrate with it.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    What's 3 Billion quid?

    Think of the children!!!

  9. The BigYin

    Not just cards

    I want to see the databases torn down and the CCTV cameras scrapped as well.

    Anything less is just a PR puff.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many a mickle maks a muckle...

    "If the Tories win the next election and stick to their promises to cancel the ID card scheme, they will save the UK economy over £3bn".

    That should just about make up for the money Gordon Brown threw away when, in practically his first act as Chancellor, he sold a large chunk of our national gold reserves at the bottom of the market. Just to make sure the gold fetched the lowest possible price, the sage of Downing Street made sure the sale was announced well in advance.

    More to the point is the immeasurable (but certainly far, far greater) amount of money the UK will not waste because of the ongoing cost of ID cards, the ID database, and the whole apparatus of an electronic police state. Just think how many activities and necessary tasks, that we take for granted today, would become difficult, time-consuming, or altogether impossible. (The growing reluctance to volunteer for work involving children is just the thin end of a very, very big wedge).

  11. this

    Not about saving the money

    Surely, it's whether it's a 'good idea' or not.

    Government spending is just re-cycling our own money - if they don't spend it on this, they'll spend it on something else, probably equally daft like jet fighters or battleships.

    Not doing this project won't actually 'save' any money. The money goes back into the economy whatever it's spent on.

    he main economic concern is who most directly benefits from the money flow.

  12. dunncha

    historic fail

    The ability to save money isn't the issue here.

    If they really needed to save Billions they would just cancel Trident. The cost of that £120 billion and will never be used. Hopefully.

    Dramatic fail as I have lost all confidence in our overloads

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Won't someone please think of the...

    ... IT contractors?

    I was in the queue to board that £3Bn gravy train. Now what am I going to do? Cushy long term contracts don't come along that frequently these days & at least ones like this can't be off-shored because of security clearence hassle. I'm all for a police state if it keeps me in the lifestyle I've become acustomed to :-p

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Yeah Right

    Some of the scheme will need to be kept in order to support upgraded passports

    So they are still keeping it then.. all the biometric info the police wanted on the ID cards is also stored on the biometric passports, ok we dont HAVE to carry them as a resident but if we want to go anywhere.. guess what.

    Next step... compulsory passports?

    Maybe I'm just too jaded.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Sadly.... talks and BS walks. Those with the real power, the lobbyists from BAE, IBM, et al will simply ask lots of backroom boys to some stay in sun-kissed villas in the quieter areas of the south Pacific and it will be business as usual!

    You seriously think MI5/6, GCHQ, etc will let a golden chance to practically put barcodes on our heads, ala Tripods? No on your nelly! The country is doomed to suffer under the weight of surveillence!

  16. codemonkey

    @Jimmy Floyd

    Don't change the way you vote, change the fact that you think it makes an ounce of difference if you change who or what you vote for. The system is not for you.

    In the states: Bush(snr), Clinton, Bush(jnr), Clinton ( 2nd in Charge ).

    If you think that the mouth piece at the top works any different over here, you're mistaken.

    Time to re-evaluate the whole thing. As you say, your local MP is decent, hence the reason he'll NEVER be PM. It's a boys club thing, you're either in or out. And when you're in, you realise your masters are not "the public" but "big business".

    So, instead of sliding into Tory or any other flavour or nonsense-speaker, why not convince every other one of your friends to make a stance and choose another way:)

    After all we, "supposedly", put these guys in charge....WE can REMOVE them and their ID card nonsense at the same time :)


    I'm Connected

  17. Britt Johnston

    thinking like a bookkeeper

    To show the true savings, can you subtract the cost of all replacement Tory projects, please?

  18. Britt Johnston

    more !!! than yahoo ads

    To rent a house in Cardiff, my adult daughter was asked for signatures from both parents to cover costs if she reneged on the contract. To prove the relationship, and ensure that we had income, we were asked to provide 3 consecutive bank records. This is normal, therefore obligatory.

    Leaving aside that non-parents are unlikely to offer a blank cheque, the income check is useless, as we are the only parents she has. And blaming unnecessary nose-poking on missing ID cards is a perversion of privacy concepts.

    I thought I have may have lived in Switzerland too long, but Chinese and German colleagues found that this Britain has gone crazy too. Can anyone attempt a rational explanation?

  19. Karim Bourouba
    Big Brother

    Sounds good

    But is this a saving we will see straight away, or will it be over a few years?

    Also, should ID cards go ahead, will the country save more than £3billion in whatever else goes on?

    If cancelling these cards now will save us this amount of money now, then it makes more sense to bin them. I mean, getting back £3billion right now should surely be at the top of the governments minds right now.

    With an extra £3billion in the coffers, MP's could go back to spending thousands of pounds on their moats etc.

    On a seperate, tinfoil hat wearing note (@codemonkey). If you have to be in the club to get anywhere, then how do you know about all of this? Are you part of the clique? Or are you just making things up to justify your own dissatisfaction with the government right now? Or, are you promoting another party?

    Or, are you actually one of the Lizard people, who as we already know, control the population of the UK via the medium of reality TV?

  20. Nomen Publicus

    What is the point?

    Manchester airport has 25,000 staff and an iris-recognition access-control system already in place. Why do they need ID cards as well?

    If only new staff are required to have ID cards it's going to take YEARS before a significant proportion have cards to justify the cost and disruption.

    Why not kill ID cards now? Then Gordon can claim to be saving £3 billion rather than leaving it to Cameron.

  21. EdwardP

    @Not about saving the money

    "Government spending is just re-cycling our own money - if they don't spend it on this, they'll spend it on something else, probably equally daft like jet fighters or battleships."

    You think so wouldn't you. The problem is we seem determined to hand out the contracts to non-UK companies, so the money actually leaves the economy.

    Thales (French) I believe are heading up the ID Card effort...

  22. jsp

    Re: Lost cards

    Quite. Once a card is lost, the entry must be deleted from the database to ensure the card cannot be used. Then the surplus citizen can also be deleted to avoid any further problems.

  23. Dennis

    Re: What's 3 Billion quid?

    "Think of the children!!!"

    Well, £3b would be an extra 45p to spend on every school meal eaten by 3.25 million kids throughout their entire time at school. Doesn't sound like much, but this would be a 30% increase in spending. Or double the cash available for the food itself.

    What shall we have? Better food for the kids or some bits of plastic?

  24. Jimmy Floyd


    Completely agree. Ever seen "Yes (Prime) Minister?" Apparently far too close to the truth.

    What's your alternative?

  25. James Pickett
    Big Brother


    "flick the card with a fingernail because it gives a distinctive noise"

    What - a different noise for every owner? If not, what's the point..?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fundemental flaw

    All very interesting, but it ignores one thing. Any new administration will be looking at cutting back on government expenditure and/or re-allocating existing expenditure. However, ID cards AREN'T funded by the Exchequer. The system operates on a cost recovery basis, just like passports, without any cost to the public purse. In fact if any profit is actually made, it is paid straight to the Treasury. It also means that you simply can't spend the money or anything else. How would you collect the £1 to 3 billion from people if you cancel the ID card? What would you give them for their £30? And charging people between £1 and 3 billion without giving them anything specific in exchange is actually a simple tax, and that takes you into a whole different ball game.

    However, it could be argued that increasing the spending power in the economy by say £1 to 3 billion over the next ten years is desirable on it's own. Perhaps so, but then you would also have to look at the other side of the coin if you were going down this track: the economic benefits of introducing the cards. The only cost benefit analysis that I've seen is produced by the Identity and Passport Service themselves, and it indicates a positive net benefit in the range of (if memory serves me correctly) £6 to 10 billion over 30 years (i.e. a net benefit - not cost - to the economy after taking into account the costs of running the service and the costs of providing readers in other bits of the public sector). Every other analysis I've seen only looks at the costs and is thus extremely unbalanced.Regardless of if you support ID cards or not, there are a number of ecenomic effects from introducing them, some negative and some positive, and irrespective of your position on the cards themselves, the economic conclusions are there anyway: the positive economic effects oughtweigh the negative effects by a considerable margin. So, if you were going to cancel ID cards purely on the basis of general economic good, it's likely that this wouldn't add up either.

    This is being generous to the figures in the article of course. A large part of the £3 bilion figure depends on not going ahead with the second biometric in pasports. And I think it's fanciful to think we wouldn't go ahead with adding fingerprints to passports. With the exception of Ireland all the other European contries are doing so and a fair few of the non EU European nations too. Not doing so in the UK effectively renders our passport second class, and all that means in terms of international prestige and providing a magnet for forger and criminals (just like a burglar they always go for the house on the block that's the easiest to get into). Any incoming administration wan't want to be saddled with the 'Second Class Britain' label, especially if there's no benefit to the Exchequer from doing so.

    So, in conclusion, if you want any incoming administration to axe ID cards for public expenditure or general economic reasons than the argument doesn't stand up. You'll need a better argument than the fiscal one if you want to be credible.

  27. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    @Jimmy Floyd

    "Actually, I'll almost certainly vote for the candidate with the best chance of unseating our local Labour MP (who is, sadly, an otherwise decent chap). So long as it isn't BNP or UKIP, natch."

    Hell yes

    Pretty much the only way to do it.

    My local one's a junior Labour Home Office minister in a marginal seat.

    Time to put them on the bench.

    At least £1.8 Bn? I'd take the low bid and be happy with that.

    Less than 301 days left to the General Election.

  28. Alan B

    A bit late, don't you think?

    The ID card idea should have been scrapped many billions of pounds ago, before any money was spent on it. Just think how much healthier the UK finances would look if all that money had been used in a more sensible manner.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Fundemental flaw

    "So, in conclusion, if you want any incoming administration to axe ID cards for public expenditure or general economic reasons than the argument doesn't stand up. You'll need a better argument than the fiscal one if you want to be credible."

    We're human beings, not pieces of state property. I will not sell myself into slavery.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just give ID cards

    to Ex Labour MPs and, if by a snowflake's chance in hell there are any current after the election, Labour MPs.

    We deserve to find out if they work or not, and how secure they would be, there should be a no prosecution clause if the databases are breached, because they have claimed they would be really secure.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    ID Swap Cards

    Collect the whole set!

    Get your free card in every £100 box of Chocco Munchies!!

    Ask your Mum to buy you a box today!

  32. Captain Mainwaring

    Biometric Passports to become De Facto ID cards?

    Even if an incoming Conservative government were to cancel the ID card scheme and NIR, it is still likely that the Biometric Passport would become a De Facto national identity document in time. It was always the intention of the ID card scheme to collect the fingerprints and holder's photograph at some designated centre, whether that be a local interview office or even a local Post Office. From 2011 onwards, the Passport office intends that as well as the holder's photograph, the new phase 2 Passport would also contain two fingerprint samples as well. If a future Conservative government sanctions this new type of Passport, we will see a situation where tens of millions of people will be routinely finger printed and photographed for the convenience of the state. Of course no one has to apply for a Passport if they object to this practice, but with around 50 million of us already in possesion of a Passport, this is likely to become a common proceedure in future. It seems to me that some of the original aims and intentions of the ID card scheme will live on, even if there is a change of government next year.

    Still, better than the full-blown, Stasi-esque version that Nu Labour would like to foist on us.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ID Cards only prevent terrorism...

    ...based on the assumption that the terrorist doesn't want to get caught after the event.

    Suicide bombers don;t particularly care whether or not they get caught as they're more than likely to be dead after the event anyway, they just need long enough to build and detonate a bomb, which, despite the opinions of some, is extremely easy for any technically competent person to do.

    The fact that bombs are not exploding every day in the UK can be attributed to one of only two things:

    1) The security services are doing an excellent job at catching terrorists and preventing them from blowing things up;

    2) The actual number of terrorists trying to blow things up is so small as to be insignificant and the Government is causing mass fear, panic, and terror for no reason.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one ...

    ... Who is considering voting for a Right-Wing party, because the Left-Wing party is more Right-Wing.

    I say sack it all in and just eat some Chicken-Wings ...

  35. Alien8n

    @ AC 11.02

    "The actual number of terrorists trying to blow things up is so small as to be insignificant and the Government is causing mass fear, panic, and terror for no reason."

    You obviously don't know how to think like a politician. You're an authoritarian wanting to pass a law that gives you unprecedented powers in order to control dissent and basically tell the country how and what to think. How do you do it?

    Read 1984 and there's plenty of educational material in there. Any government can pretty much do anything it likes in the name of "security", but only if the population believes it needs security. China can do what it likes, you can't vote for anyone else. Here in the UK you need to persuade the population just long enough to get your new law passed. Strange thing about UK laws is that once passed it's incredibly difficult to repeal, even if there's a change of government. Reason being that while the Commons may change, it's the Lords that actually has the final say and the makeup of the Lords is usually 5 to 10 years behind the Commons. It will take at least 5 years before all the laws brought in by Labour can even start to be repealed. That means we need at least 10 years of Tory rule to regain the right to protest against the government. But don't expect the Tories to suddenly demand the police let people protest. They were worse under the Tories than they are under Labour. May actually get them to turn up after a burglary though...

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And from the other side of the pond, er pool

    District Residents Criticize ID Card

    Debut Aims to Ease Access to Services

    By Tim Craig

    Washington Post Staff Writer

    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    They are supposed to make your wallet a bit thinner and give you everything you need to check out a book at the library or visit a recreational center or a public building.

    But as the District government starts rolling out the highly touted DC One Cards, some residents are rebelling against the initiative to put their identity on one piece of plastic.

    Community e-mail lists across the city have been hit with a wave of complaints about the card. Residents are raising questions about whether the new plastic cards are just another example of a government initiative that hasn't been well thought out.

    "My basic question is: What does this card do that your driver's license doesn't do?" asked Ted Gest of Chevy Chase. "Would someone in D.C. please explain why this is necessary?"

    The furor over the cards became especially heated this week in Ward 3 after some residents said they were told they needed to obtain one to gain access to the new Wilson Aquatic Center.

    Department of Parks and Recreation officials say they are urging residents to obtain a DC One Card to gain entry to the pool. But residents will still be admitted at no charge if they show a valid driver's license instead.

    After receiving numerous complaints about the card, D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) sent a letter Monday to City Administrator Neil O. Albert asking for answers.

    "Residents have raised concerns that the DC One Card is an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy," Cheh wrote.

    City leaders say the idea behind the cards is simple: to track who is using facilities while making it easier for residents to access services.

    The cards, which have been distributed to thousands of D.C. government summer interns, can be used for library borrowing privileges and to gain access to recreational centers.

    Students are supposed to get cards this fall. The cards will become the school ID.

    "Our research indicates that consolidating identification cards not only saves taxpayer dollars and resources but also increases convenience and ease of access to services for residents," Ayanna L. Smith, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, said in a statement Tuesday evening.

    But the cards confuse and scare some District residents with driver's licenses.

    Ann Loikow, 61, of Cleveland Park said she worries about privacy.

    "It just sort of seems crazy," Loikow said. "We shouldn't have to go get this special card to go use a public pool. If you have to identify yourself as a District resident, than anything else that already does that should be appropriate. . . . It is just sort of outrageous for us who remember what freedom and privacy used to be about."

    Smith said her office has adopted a privacy policy that states that the "card database . . . cannot be used to obtain any other data about the user" except a name, address, telephone number, sex, birth date and the last four digits of the user's Social Security number.

    When some residents tried recently to obtain one to get access to the aquatic center, they were photographed and given a card that included their pictures. But their names were not on it, even though Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's name appeared prominently.

    Smith said cards with Fenty's name are temporary. The permanent cards include the recipient's name and photograph, but not the mayor's, she said.

    Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), chairman of the Libraries, Parks and Recreation Committee, said he would like city officials to slow their implementation of the new identification cards until the system can be revised. But Thomas added that he likes the concept because the city has to be more vigilant in making sure nonresidents are not overwhelming recreational facilities.

    "A lot of folks who use our rec centers, paid for by tax dollars, are not D.C. residents, and that's a problem," Thomas said. "We do need an automated system for this, but we have to slow down and do it right."

    Loikow countered that the city should scrap the program.

    "If I just want to have a swim, what do they need to know about me?" Loikow asked. "They don't need to know every rec center I have ever been to. They just need to know I have a bathing suit and can take a swim without drowning."

    When vegans go bad, no vegetable can sleep safely in its bed.

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