Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/12/21/id_card_muddle/

UK ID card project descends into muddle

Expansion to London yoof planned, despite funding doubts

By John Leyden

Posted in Government, 21st December 2009 14:22 GMT

Further confusion has broken out over the UK government's controversial ID scheme, after it emerged that the Home Office was announcing an extension to the scheme, days after Chancellor Alistair Darling questioned the future of the project.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson is set to announce that young people of between 16 to 24-year-old in London will be allowed to apply for voluntary ID cards, which will cost them £30, the Daily Mail reports. It's hard to believe there will be many takers, especially in the aftermath of Christmas, when everyone is skint anyway.

The planned expansion comes days after the Chancellor suggested funding for ID cards may be cut, as the UK tightens its belt to cope with reduced tax revenues that have accompanied the global economic downturn.

A voluntary launch of ID cards in Merseyside descended into Whitehall farce after junior Home Office minister Meg Hillier forgot to bring her own card along to the launch. New Labour is attempting to promote the voluntary take-up of ID cards after plans to make biometric cards compulsory floundered on high costs, lack of public appetite and concerns about the creation of a database state. The voluntary scheme was first rolled out in Manchester.

Opposition Conservatives have pledged to ditch ID cards if elected following a general election that must take place next year. ®