David Blunkett’s proposals will mean that each benefit claimant will have his own card, (with his picture, address, ID number etc) which he will use to claim benefits. These ‘entitlement,’ cards will be backed up by computer files with all those who receive benefit having their name and details on government disks.
The Home Office’s idea is that the cards would be used to clamp down on fraud by checking rights to receive NHS treatment, education and state benefits. Although in theory this may cut down on benefit fraud the price paid in terms of freedom and civil rights does not seem to be worth it.
Generally benefit claimants tend to come from the poorer end of British society and will just make life even harder for those who already suffer the most.
Certainly it is even questionable whether or not benefit fraud is a serious problem. Figures of the amount that benefit fraud cost the taxpayer range from £50m to £500m a year. This pales in comparison to figures on corporate fraud and tax evasion from tax exiles that range from £400m to £5.5billions a year (depending on different groups statistics).
Previous Conservative governments and some Labour Home Office Ministers had flirted in the past with the ideas of compulsory ID Cards. Due to this civil libertarians fear that ID cards will one day will introduced and these benefit cards are a bad sign on the road to ID cards.
The Observer newspaper claims Home Secretary David Blunkett will launch a six-month consultation period on the possible introduction of entitlement cards, with a final decision by the end of the year.
David Blunkett’s plans will face strong opposition from Labour backbenchers and Liberal Democrat, so it is far from guaranteed that these plans will become law.