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UK.gov backs ID scheme with peanuts promo spend

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The government is so sure that the UK public can't wait to get their hands on ID cards that it is spending next to nothing to promote the scheme.

Successive Home Secretaries have insisted that the UK populace is thoroughly convinced of the case for ID cards, and is just waiting to rush out and insert themselves on the mega ID database as soon as it's up and running.

That's despite research from NO2ID that suggests public support for the scheme is at an all time low, with 60 per cent of respondents to its polls saying the scheme is a "bad idea". This compares to 43 per cent having doubts back in 2005.

Perhaps this might have something to do with the promotion budget for the scheme, which to date barely amounts to a hill of beans, at least in government terms.

Phil Woolas told the commons, in an answer to a written question yesterday, that in the 2009 financial year, the government paid £62,000 "to marketing communication agencies for public information activities to ensure businesses were aware of the Identity Card for Foreign Nationals when it was introduced in November 2008."

This was followed with the information that "payments of £464,314 have been made to marketing communication agencies by the Identity and Passport Service in preparation for the launch of the Identity Card and Identification Card for UK citizens in Greater Manchester and for airside workers later this year."

Woolas added that no payments had been made to public relations firms to promote the card in either of those years.

Whether you agree with the ID card or not, this seems like a paltry sum to promote a policy that has helped the Labour Party alienate key parts of its traditional base.

It's even more stunning when you consider that the Central Office of Information spent a total of £540m on marketing and communications in the year to 2009, up 43 per cent on the year.

Still, this silent treatment is about to come to an end. Last month the government signed off a £500,000 plus cartoon ad to push the scheme. ®

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