No ID card? No student loan

Katie Spenceley 31 January 2008

Students will be forced to carry identity cards in order to apply for student loans, leaked Home Office documents suggest.

The internal government paper states: “We should issue ID cards to young people to assist them as they open their first bank account, take out a student loan, etc.”

The recent crises with the mishandling of personal data in various government organisations have raised concerns over the state’s ability to handle such vast amounts of data.

Figures suggest that the biometric details of over two million young people entering higher education would have to be collected.

The Conservative party, who have long been opposed to the proposed ID cards, say that the plans amount to little more than a “blackmail” of students in an attempt to strengthen “a failing policy”.

Shadow Immigration Minister, Damian Green said that: “This is an outrageous plan. The government has seen its ID cards proposals stagger from shambles to shambles. They are clearly trying to introduce them by stealth.”

The documents’ revelation comes at a time when the government has come under fire for plans to make those applying for a driving licence also carry an ID card.

A leaked memo to the Sunday People headed “Option Analysis” states: “Various forms of coercion, such as designation of the application process for identity documents issued by UK ministers (e.g. passports) are an option to stimulate applications in a manageable way.

“There are advantages to designation of documents associated with particular target groups, e.g. young people who may be applying for their first driving licence.”

Andrew Watson, Cambridge co-ordinator of the NO2ID campaign, criticised the government for not making its plans public.

“These leaks expose the dishonesty of government claims that identity registration would be voluntary,” he told The Cambridge Student (TCS).

“Only those who don’t drive, don’t travel, and don’t go to university would escape paying to be added to the central identity database,” he continued.

“Ministers say this would ‘protect our identities’, but like all protection rackets, the national ID scheme is designed to benefit the racketeers, not the public.

“This dishonest, dangerous, expensive scheme must be scrapped immediately,” he concluded.

The proposed ID cards will cost around £100 each and will contain personal details and biometric data such as fingerprints.

The documents reveal that the cards could be introduced as soon as 2010.

Critics fear cards will be used to monitor the public – and now to determine who can apply for student loans and grants.

Katie Spenceley