The system, to be launched on October 1997, is designed to cut bureaucracy and combat fraud.But some fear the move is a step towards establishing Big Brother-like state controls.
Under the new system, local authorities will issue children with a tax and social security number once they reach the age of three-and-a-half. The document, which will contain other personal details, will have to be added to any application for school or university places or grants.
The Government reject charges of totalitarianism, saying it is purely an efficiency drive. "Instead of tonnes of paper work and hours of phone calls, the details necessary to process applications will be available at the touch of a computer key," said a spokeswoman.
TES june 28 1996 popperfoto