Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Questions (892, 898)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

892. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons who had a social protection payment withheld and-or suspended for failure to produce and-or apply for a public services card since the card was introduced; the number of persons who appealed the payment suspension and won; the number of persons suspended from receiving payment for the reason of not holding a card; if such persons will have their payments reinstated; the rationale for withholding or suspending payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23648/19]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

898. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons who had a public service withheld, suspended and-or refused for failure to produce and-or apply for a public services card since the card was introduced; the number of persons who appealed the decision not to provide the public service sought; the rationale for withholding or suspending payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23708/19]

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Written answers (Question to Employment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 892 and 898 together.

Social welfare legislation provides that a person who is applying for a Personal Public Services Number (PPSN) or a social welfare payment, or who is already in receipt of a social welfare payment, can be required to authenticate their identity. Where a person has authenticated their identity to a substantial level of assurance, they are issued a Public Services Card (PSC).

This legislation also allows for the disallowance or disqualification from receipt of social welfare payments in the event that a person does not authenticate their identity. As my Department spends over €19bn annually on supports and services, the Deputy will appreciate that it is essential that all steps are taken to ensure the people who access our services are the people who are entitled to receive them. I consider it reasonable, therefore, to ask people to authenticate their identity in this manner.

Data is not collected on the number of individuals who have had their payments stopped because they have failed to authenticate their identity.

Once a person has authenticated their identity and been issued with a PSC, other public service bodies accept the PSC as evidence that the person has authenticated their identity.  This removes the need for the person to repeatedly register their identity details with different public bodies when accessing services.

Earlier this year, my Department published the findings of a customer survey on the PSC. The results of the survey were very positive and showed strong support for the PSC and very high levels of customer satisfaction with the information provided and the processes involved in applying for a PSC. The results also showed that people welcome and support the sharing of identity information between public bodies because it makes their life easier when they are applying for public services.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.