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Government expects to exceed social welfare savings target

Targets for next year may now be revised in light of the savings made in 2011 so far.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS said it expects to exceed targets set for a cracking down on social welfare fraud this year and could be set to revise targets for next year.

In a response to a parliamentary question tabled earlier this month, the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has revealed that targets set for 2011 to crack down on defrauding of the social welfare system are close to being achieved and are expected to be exceeded this year.

The Department of Social Protection deals with in excess of two million welfare claims each year for payments such as jobseeker’s allowance, pensions, fuel allowance, household benefits, and back to school allowances.

In total it makes some 1.4 million payments to people every week, at a cost of €21 billion to the State annually. The department set a target of reviewing 780,000 individual welfare claims and achieving €540 million control savings in 2011.

But Burton said by the end of October around €536 million in estimated control savings had been reported after 746,000 cases had been reviewed.

In September, the Minister said she wanted to see savings of as much as €625 million in 2012 as part of a welfare fraud control initiative.

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However,  in light of these figures her Department has confirmed that it is now looking to review these targets because of the savings made already this year.

“The Department anticipates that the targets set for this year will be exceeded. In light of this, control savings targets have been set provisionally at €625m for 2012,” a statement said.

“However, the savings and review targets for 2012 are being considered at present and the actual targets will be available shortly.”

Previously: Joan Burton launches crackdown on ‘unfair’ welfare fraud >

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Hugh O'Connell

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