Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
233. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will explain the large discrepancy in the number of PPS numbers in existence as compared to the number of persons in the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24531/11]
Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The PPS No. is the individual’s unique reference number for all dealings with Government Departments and public bodies. This covers its use for DSP purposes as well as use by other agencies (in accordance with legislation — Section 262 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005 provides the basis for the allocation, use and sharing of the PPS No.).
These numbers are issued by my Department following checks on an individual’s identity. The checks vary depending on the type of individual concerned — we accept notification via the General Register Office of births but for the last number of years (since 2000) insist on a face to face interview before issuing a PPS number to a resident of working age.
There are some 7.4m records on my Department’s central database, each identified by a PPS number. These records are for all PPS numbers ever issued so the amount of PPS numbers issued and the population figure should differ. As well as all individuals currently resident in the State who have been issued with a PPS number, the figure also includes any individual who:
has not been resident in the State but has, for instance, benefited from an Irish Estate (the Revenue Commissioners have a requirement that all beneficiaries of Irish Estates should have a PPS Number).
It is not possible for me to describe all uses that other agencies have for the PPS Number, but it is worth remarking that my Department uses the number to identify an individual’s PRSI contributions while they are working in the State. This means that, even after they have left the State, the number allocated to them remains valid. The PRSI contribution information will be relevant to calculating pension entitlements in other jurisdictions as well as this one.
I will also make the point that possession of a number, in itself, does not convey any entitlement. While it can make identifying a person easier for both the individual and the agency, checks on identity and meeting the qualifying conditions for any scheme must be carried out.
My Department takes its stewardship of the individual’s data very seriously and, although any database containing the volume and historical content of its client records will contain incomplete and incorrect data, we have processes in place to monitor, correct and enhance the data that we hold. Most importantly, we also continue to enhance the processes associated with collecting the data in the first place.
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