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Donnerstag, 2.12.2021
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001
The Irish government is to make further moves towards automating social welfare payments, some two years after a report recommended e-payments across the board.

Speaking at the sod-turning ceremony for new Department of Social Welfare offices in Sligo, Seamus Brennan, minister for Social Welfare and Family Affairs, said that a review of the department's methods of paying customers was being undertaken to identify a payment system that would be flexible, cost-effective and would take account of the needs of social welfare recipients. Minister Brennan made his comments almost exactly two years after the government received the results of a study carried out by Accenture, which said that if the government switched over to e-payments completely it could save EUR200 million per annum.

"Every week more than 970,000 welfare payment supports issue from my department that directly benefit 1.5 million men, women and children," Minister Brennan said in a statement. "This is taxpayer's money and there is a clear responsibility on me to ensure that our payment methods are structured in a way that is most efficient, cost effective, and responds to the varying needs of customers."

The options currently available to customers include post office payments using a pension book or an electronic swipe card; cheque payments to customers at their home address; and direct payment to customers' bank accounts via electronic fund transfers (EFT).

Out of 1.6 million social welfare payments made in February, 59 percent of recipients got their payments through the post office, 10 percent got their payments by cheque and 31 percent were paid by EFT directly into their bank accounts.

In the UK, 72 percent of customers are paid by direct payment to a bank or building society, and 14 percent directly at post offices. In the USA, over 90 percent of payments are by electronic transfer through bank accounts.

There are a number of barriers to the adoption of e-payment from the government. One potential problem is the opposition of local post office and communities who prefer the current system of distributing payments through the post office. The fact that post offices get paid to make social welfare payments helps to maintain rural post offices, which are often the only financial institutions in rural areas.

Another is the fact that only two out of three Irish people have a bank account into which an electronic payment could be made, compared to the EU average of 90 percent.

Autor: Ciaran Buckley

Quelle: ElectricNews, 30.03.2005

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