Identity Crisis

This is not a case of me being ‘unable to find myself’ or ‘not knowing who I really am’, it’s a case of many problems created by the lack of proof of identity costing everyone in the UK money that we can ill afford to spend.

I have a number of forms of identity, including my passport, photo driving licence, bank cards, etc. I also have an EHIC card, which I have had to use abroad to gain access to medical treatment.

I keep hearing that non-UK citizens use [abuse] our health service and don’t pay anything, partly because we don’t do enough identity checks and partly because we are lax in chasing up reimbursements from fellow EU countries.

Many years ago, I had private medical insurance and was once booked into a private hospital for a procedure. When I arrived at the hospital, the receptionist welcomed me and then immediately asked me how I was going to pay for the procedure. Some may think this harsh and ‘unfeeling’, but is it really any different than when I went to hospital in Spain and had to produce my EHIC card as proof of identity before I could be seen?

I am a signatory on a number of bank/building society accounts for various organisations of which I am a member. Whenever we want a change of signatory, or of ‘nominated account holder’, all the signatories have to sign documents and even on occasion go into the branch with proof of identity [again!]. If we have to go through that for a few hundred pounds, how do criminals manage to set up multiple accounts in multiple names to help manage their activities?

Of course, not everyone has a passport or EHIC card, so what do they do? I believe a utility bill is often used as proof of identity/residence; how pathetic!

Why don’t we have a photo identity card for all UK citizens? The main objections to having a ‘smart’ national identity card seem to be cost and privacy.

I don’t recall what the last estimate of the cost of such a scheme was, but am certain it is a cost worth paying. There would also be savings in other areas, since the smart identity card could replace other forms of identity, from driving licence to EHIC, and including benefits entitlement and possibly even bank cards. The scheme would probably require additional people to administer it. Good! We could train unemployed people and get them doing something productive and worthwhile.

As to privacy, I think every one of us already has a great deal of information recorded about us, and I don’t see how an identity card increases the likelihood of identity theft or of the ‘government’ snooping and finding out more about us. If you are an honest citizen, what difference does it make? If you are honest, you should have nothing to hide.

Personally, I’d be happy for the government to listen in to all my calls. Perhaps they would then do something about all those nuisance ‘cold calls’!

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