ID Cards: where has all the money gone?
The Telegraph is running a story saying first that the 13000 existing holders of the voluntary ID cards will not be reimbursed when the cards are scrapped, and secondly that scrapping the cards will save only £86m over the next four years.
The Government will now say that it cannot afford the estimated £500,000 cost of making and administering the refunds at a time when it is announcing £6 billion of cuts.
David Cameron has regularly referred to the scrapping of ID cards as one of the biggest cuts that can be made to public spending.
However, officials now admit that a net saving of only £86 million will be made over the next four years from scrapping the cards, as the bulk of the scheme’s costs were set to have been recouped through the £30 charge.
ID card scheme will be scrapped with no refund to holders
To the first point I say, ‘Tough’. I have little sympathy towards those who would voluntarily give up their liberties and in so doing make it more likely that I would be forced to cede my own.
But on the second point I am really confused. I am, of course, not an economist. To me, economics simply means that if I haven’t got any money I can’t spend any money; but if I have got some money I can go and get drunk.
What confuses me is how you can come up with a figure of £86m for something that was not going to be compulsory. If it was compulsory, then you would know exactly how many £30 fees you would have to offset against the total cost. So, lets say that 25m people would be taxed the £30 in order to pay for the scheme. The total cost, if it’s true that the majority of the cost will be covered by the £30 tax, could then be estimated (by those who are outside of the tent) as 30 x 25,000,000; or £750,000,000.
As far as I am aware, nobody has ever come up with a figure as low as £750,000,000. So where is the rest of the money? Let’s say that the total cost of the ID card scheme is as low as £5 billion. Where is the other £4+ billion? Has it already been spent? Or is the £86m way, way wide of the mark. Or should I just take the £30 I’ve now saved, let the economists get on with it, and go and get drunk.
Will the LSE please step up and explain where the money has gone?