People are being urged to sign up for a public services card which can be used to access Government services and reduce the risk of fraud.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe has said the card, first rolled out in 2012 to allow people claim social welfare payments and State pensions, is being expanded to include other services. Everyone over the age of 18 can use the card and Mr Donohoe said millions of euro have already been saved through fraud prevention since its introduction.
The minister said: “The public services card acts as a key to more efficient and better-run public services. It enables the State to provide new and enhanced services to the public while also achieving efficiencies in administration and helping to eliminate fraud.”
The card is an already accepted form of photo identity for electoral purposes and all SUSI grant applicants.
“The Road Safety Authority and the National Treasury Management Agency are also developing plans for the process to support new drivers’ licence applications and proof of identity for State Savings purposes. Work is also ongoing to establish how it might replace the Garda age card in the future,” Mr Donohoe said.
Anyone applying for adult passports for the first time must now have the card, but it is not required for people renewing their passports.
Two million people already have the card and the Government hopes a further one million will have signed up by the end of next year.
Mr Donohoe said: “In terms of the cost, it’s already delivering significant savings; we estimate that since it was made available we have already saved €2m through the reduction in fraud and through people claiming services they are not entitled to.”
He said the card would eliminate the duplication of identities or multiple benefit claims being made by individuals.
“We want to have a system where the citizen needs to register once and can use that registration to access multiple services.
“It’s a benefit to the citizen and it’s a benefit to the State.”
Separately, the Dublin Central TD said work on the north inner city plan, developed in response to a spate of gangland murders, is “moving fast and moving in the way that we outlined to the community”.
The Government has committed to invest €1.6 million in the capital’s north inner city in a bid to tackle drug and gang-related issues in the area. He said Taoiseach Mr Kenny had again visited the area in the past two weeks and met with elderly people living on Seán McDermott Street and leaders of community groups.
“Kieran Mulvey, who was the figurehead appointed by the government to put together and evaluate where we are and to identify a new strategy as to how we might respond back to these challenges, has already had meetings with a number of key groups in the area and that work will continue regardless of whether the Dáil is in session or not,” the minister said.
Mr Mulvey has been tasked to deliver a report outlining a 10-year plan for the area by November and Mr Donohoe yesterday was confident the deadline will be met.
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