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The cost of security

According to the Home Office in a statement published by the BBC in November 2003 the initial cost of the system will be around 186m but the total cost is estimated to be 3bn.

In clause 1.6 of the Home Office publication Legislation on Identity Cards: A Consultation (CM 6178) it states that 'the costs of the identity cards scheme will be recovered from fee income'.

The current estimates of what the fees for identity cards will be are:

People will have to pay about 77 for a combined passport identity card, compared to the current 42 charge. A plain identity card will be about 35.

Cards will be free for under 16-year-olds and retired people above the age of 75, while those on low incomes will pay a reduced rate of about 10.

Assuming the following breakdown for the 60 million population of the UK.

10 million will pay no fee
10 million will pay a reduced fee of 10
40 million will pay the full fee of 35

This will raise a fee income of 1.5 billion, which is only half of the estimated 3 billion that the project will cost. But is even this figure a realistic estimate of the cost. Government IT projects are notorious for going well over budget and for being completed late and the surplus is likely to come from the Treasury and hence from the taxpaying public.

Given the costs of the proposed scheme it should be debated whether the British public is getting value for money, are the benefits of the system worth the expense?


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Next: Is Biometrics a silver bullet? Up: Contents Previous: Is it possible to avoid having a compulsory ID card?

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