Thursday, 17 April 2014

Questions (129)

Michael McNamara


129. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Social Protection if a saving would accrue to her Department if all jobseeking clients received their payments through electronic fund transfers and if she will outline the scale of any such saving. [18378/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Last year, the Government approved the Department’s Payment Strategy for the modernisation of welfare payments. The Strategy sets out a roadmap for payment developments over the coming years. The Strategy aims to facilitate greater use of electronic payments and to remove the limits that cash payments impose on our clients in terms of making onward financial transactions and availing of discounted prices online while also continuing to serve those who are more vulnerable in our society.

The Department is very conscious of the need to ensure that fraud controls are not diminished when implementing change. In achieving an electronic payments environment, the Department will ensure its payment delivery approaches complement and enhance its scheme and payment control functions. In this regard, the Department proposes to adopt a risk-based approach to all payments, including those made to jobseekers, in progressively converting to electronic payments. The rollout and migration of electronic payments will be based on appropriate assessment of risk for the client cohorts involved. It will build on existing control attributes and security. The Department will seek to reassess and evaluate the associated risks and ensure that both preventative point of entry controls and detection systems are modified to securely accommodate the Payment Strategy. This approach will also be used to identify and combat any trends that are emerging in the financial services sector generally and in instances of fraudulent applications or unusual trends in payments.

The Deputy may wish to note that the Department does not intend migrating higher risk clients to an electronic payment until appropriate and robust measures are defined and fully implemented to mitigate any potential for increased risk of fraud within an electronic payments environment. The Department is actively considering possibilities in this regard.

Given the above considerations, the figure requested by the Deputy is not available.