Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 9 May 1995

Vol. 452 No. 5

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Identity Cards.

Liam Fitzgerald


21 Mr. L. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will consider issuing, on an optional basis, identity cards to all old age pension and social welfare recipients; where such options are taken up, if he will make arrangements with banks and post offices to give cash to such recipients on production of their identity cards, thereby eliminating the cost of printing and mailing of all relevant books and also providing greater security for such recipients when drawing down their allowances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7411/95]

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.

Pensioners and other categories of social welfare recipients will receive social services cards in due course and this will open up the possibility of using social services cards for the purpose of collecting pension payments. However, it will be a number of years before we reach this stage.
The facility to have payments credited to a bank account or a savings account with An Post is already available to people in receipt of child benefit, old age contributory pension, retirement pension, survivor's pension and facility is provided as an alternative to payment by books of pension orders. People in these categories who, for one reason or another, find this automatic payment facility more suited to their personal needs and preferences may choose accordingly. It is intended to gradually extend this facility to other pension groups.