Think of a number

We all know that 330,000 users will have access to Contactpoint, right? How do we know that? Because we’ve been told so many times. The Register has been trying to find out exactly where that figure came from and the results are, well, surprising:

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we now believe that it first surfaced in a feasibility study into information sharing carried out in 2004 on behalf of a cabinet office sub-committee – MISC9(D) – chaired by secretary of state for education and science Charles Clarke. This sub-committee was itself part of cabinet committee MISC9, which was chaired by the then chancellor, Gordon Brown.

Government appears to be placing a great deal of faith in this study. They quoted it in evidence to the Select Committee on Merits of Statutory Instruments back in 2007.

As recently as a week ago, a spokesperson for the DCSF reaffirmed the Department’s confidence in the figure of 330,000 despite the fact that it was calculated before the legislation enabling ContactPoint to go ahead had been passed, and long before it was clear as to who might be using the system. The DCSF also appeared to prefer the 2004 figure over anything based on more recent research.

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