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Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

How much were fraudulent Child Benefit claims costing the country?

Around €130 million in the last two years.

MEASURES AIMED AT controlling the number of people who wrongfully claim child benefit have saved the country over €130 million in the last two years.

Responding to a parliamentary question from independent TD Denis Naughten this week, the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said that the payment costs around €1.9 billion a year and measures to control the numbers claiming it had led to savings.

“The control policy for the scheme was reviewed in 2010 to ensure that controls in place to prevent fraud and abuse continue to be effective and relevant. As a result of this review, additional enhanced and updated control measures have been devised and implemented.

“The child benefit control programme is kept under regular review based on the outcomes achieved.

The total savings from child benefit control activity was €74 million in 2013. The Department has issued 380,000 continuing eligibility certificates to customers in 2014 and has generated €61 million in savings as at the end of October.

Earlier this week, Burton announced that 20 gardaí had joined her department’s Fraud Investigation Unit.

The primary function of the gardaí assigned to the Special Investigation Unit will be to investigate allegations and initiate investigations into social welfare fraud. They will be deployed for at least one year.

Burton said that said that she would “make no apologies for tackling fraud and abuse in the system” in order to ensure “the State’s limited resources … go to those most in need”.

Read: Gardaí on hunt to find dole cheats

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