Cost of the Database State

Can we afford database state?

Convention on Modern Liberty research team paper 5

No government minister or civil servant will tell us how much the United Kingdom intends to spend on the database state. This is either because they don’t want taxpayers to know the final bill – likely to reach tens of billions of pounds – or ballooning budgets and IT failures make it impossible to give an exact figure.

Expenditure on IT projects over the next four years is predicted to be £102 billion. Much of that will go on surveillance systems but can we afford these ambitious plans when the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecasts that Britain will have to cut spending, or increase taxes, by at least £20 billion to cope with the economic crisis?

The spending on current projects is truly daunting.

The children’s database- or ContactPoint, which will contain the details of every child of school age cost £224 million so far. The operating cost is estimated to be £41 million per annum – that is £410 million over ten years.

Ten-year total cost, including expenditure £634 million

Interception Modernisation programme,

Proposed in the Communication Data bill, the  IMP will store data from every text, phone call, email and Internet connection. The cost of the data “silo” is estimated at  £12 billion.

Ten-year total cost £12 billion

ID Card and National Identity Register. A report in June 2005 from the LSE predicted that ID card scheme and would costs in total £10.6 and £19.2 billion over ten years. More conservative predictions based on the way the Home Office has displaced costs to other departments puts the identifiable cost at  £7 billion over ten years.

Ten- year total cost £7 billion

E- borders

Originally estimated cost over the next decade of £1.2 billion. Costs to the UK travel industry for the same period are £360 Million, which will be passed onto the travelling public.

Ten-year total cost to taxpayer and travelling public £1,560 billion

NHS Spine. The computerised system linking all health records has suffered a huge increase in costs over three years – from £2.3 billion to £12.7 billion. As yet there is no end in sight.

Total costs £12.7 billion

The ANPR Network. The National Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, which records and stores every journey made on major roads and through town centres, was set up without Parliament’s authority by the Association of Chief Police Officers. It has cost £42 million and operating costs will run to £2 million per annum.

Ten-year total cost £62 million.

National Offender Information System. This system is the consolidation of over 200 prison and probation service databases into a single offender information system.

Total costs so far £950 million.

Payment Modernisation Programme & Pension Transformation Programme. These are the programmes to update the methods of payments for pensions and benefits.

Total cost since 2002: £1.4 billion

Added together, these figures come to a total of £36,500 billion - equal to Scotland’s entire budget or the cost of keeping Britain’s armed forces on active service overseas. But experts believe that this is only half the story. How long can we continue to finance the huge rise in surveillance and data collection, which the House of Lord Constitutional Committee recently said “risks undermining the long-standing traditions of privacy and individual freedom which are vital for a democracy?”