Written Answers. - Signing Cards Arrangement.

36.

asked the Minister for Social Welfare if there is an identity card pilot scheme in operation in employment exchanges in the Dublin area; if so, if he will outline the nature of this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The existing nationwide arrangements in relation to the issue of signing cards for persons claiming unemployment payments, have been in place for many years. Each person claiming an unemployment payment is issued with a cardboard signing card. The main functions of this card are: To enable the hatch officer in the local office to identify and retrieve the correct claim when the claimant attends to sign; To remind the claimant when and where he or she must sign; and to act as a deterrent against personation. Experience over the years has shown that the existing cards are of an inconvenient size and because of their composition, wear out quickly, and have to be replaced on a regular basis. In addition the information on the card is capable of being altered.

Because of these factors, a move to a more modern plastic covered card was considered. A new card was introduced on a pilot basis in July 1987 in Thomas Street and Townsend Street Employment Exchanges, and issued to approximately 10,000 persons. It contains information similar to that on the cardboard card. In addition, the card has a durable laminated plastic cover, is of a convenient size similar to a bank card, and the information contained on it is tamper proof.

The initial reaction from those who were issued with the new card has been very favourable. The results of the pilot study are however, still being examined.