Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (488)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

488. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Social Protection when the online application process for public services cards will be operational; when appointments for same will resume; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6380/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

To date my Department has issued over 4.5 million Public Services Cards (PSCs).

At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, my Department temporarily suspended PSC appointments and the online system used to manage those appointments. This decision was taken in order to comply with HSE and World Health Organisation guidelines and help protect the health and well-being of our customers and staff. Decisions regarding the reinstatement of these services have been made with regard to the importance of ensuring the continuing safety of customers and staff.

PSC appointments are currently suspended due to the prevailing Level 5 restrictions, but appointments are available for urgent cases in circumstances where the customer has no alternative means of accessing public services other than by acquiring a PSC. Any person urgently requiring a PSC should contact their local Intreo Centre.

Public Services Cards issued up to November 2018 expire after seven years. Cards issued since then are valid for ten years.

In June 2020, my Department introduced the facility to issue a new card, valid for a further three year period, to customers whose cards had expired. Customers can avail of this service by telephoning the free travel or PSC helpdesk areas of my Department or their local Intreo Centre, where my staff will be happy to assist them.

My Department is also developing an online PSC renewal service. It is expected that this service will be available in April 2021.

It is important to note that an expired PSC can be used to collect a social welfare payment at the post office, to avail of free travel, and to set up a verified MyGovID account which can be used to access online services provided by many public sector bodies.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.