Payment Strategy

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The modernisation of welfare payment methods is of pivotal importance to our customers, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DSP) and the wider Irish economy. This strategy sets out the Department’s vision for the future where all welfare payments will be made electronically, recognising the needs of the DSP and its customers.

There is an urgent need to reform both the financial and payments environment in Ireland. Cash and cheques have been estimated to cost the Irish economy in the order of 1.4% of GNP through production, administration and security costs. Changing to electronic payments has been shown in other countries to speed up the delivery of payments, to reduce their associated costs and increase national competitiveness. DSP accounts for more Government expenditure than any other Department. It plays a significant role in the overall production of cash and cheques in the Irish economy. The channels used to deliver welfare payments to customers therefore, has a hugely influential role in wider payment modernisation across the State.

For us, incremental movement towards delivering all welfare payments electronically is a significant opportunity to improve services to customers and provide for more cost effective delivery as well as contributing to the wider Government agenda. The Payment Strategy will support all customers in receiving their welfare payments in a convenient, safe and secure manner. This includes unbanked customers, customers with specific access requirements and customers with other forms of payment accounts. It is anticipated major savings will be achieved through the provision of cost effective services to customers. These changes will also support the State's objective of improving financial inclusion and will help strengthen DSP’s approaches to fraud and control.

The progressive move to e-payments will undoubtedly affect our customers. For some, it will require giving assistance and support to help them in the transition. This assistance is an essential element of the strategy. The Department will work energetically to help customers and their representatives in a transition period of up to five years. We have previous experience of transitioning from one payment type to another i.e. when the post office books were taken out of circulation. Informed by that success, we will aim to make the changeover as seamless and easy as possible for customers through good communication and personal assistance where necessary.

In this document DSP sets out its vision to move to fully electronic welfare payments, and the implementation path to deliver the changes required. In developing this strategy we have undertaken a wide range of stakeholder engagements seeking views from state organisations, financial institutions, the supplier marketplace, customer representatives and staff. We have also extended our research to find out what is happening in the welfare sectors in other jurisdictions both in Europe and further afield. In this context we are clear that the strategic path we are now embarking on is the right one for our customers, for DSP, for the wider Government and for the citizens of Ireland.

Joan Burton T.D.
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Download the Payment Strategy in full PDF (966 KB)

Last modified:23/12/2013