My Department is at present in the process of issuing a new type plastic social services card to social welfare customers generally. So far, cards have been issued to over a million people. Most young people in the 17 to 24 age group and people in receipt of unemployment payments have received social services cards at this stage. The issue of social services cards will continue over the next few years.
The social services card is a standard plastic card similar to a credit card. The person's name and RSI number are printed on the front of the card and there is a panel on the back of the card for the person's signature. The card also has a magnetic stripe on which are encoded the person's RSI number and date of birth.
The main purpose of this card is to facilitate easier access to social welfare services. The card replaces the cardboard registration card that was previously issued to people to notify them of the RSI number when entering the social welfare system. The card will also in time replace the "signing card" currently in use at local offices of my Department.
The card is being used to provide speedier access to unemployment payments at post offices where the counter services have been modernised.
The signature on the card is used as an aid to identification. Automated post offices can "swipe" the card through a card reader and automatically retrieve the customer's payment record which greatly speeds up the payment process.