The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has urged people who have not yet signed up for a Public Services Card to do so.

The card is designed to assist people aged 18 and over in accessing a range of government services and to cut down on fraud.

It was introduced in 2012 for people claiming social welfare payments and State pensions.

The scheme is being expanded to include other services and Minister Paschal Donohoe urged people to sign up.

He said the end goal is to get three million cards issued.

He defended the overall cost of the scheme and rejected criticism from privacy advocates who say the card is a national identity card by stealth.

The minister said it is not mandatory to carry the card so it cannot be considered as a national identification card.

12,000 people are signing up every week, he said, adding that privacy is preserved to the maximum extent possible.