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Social Welfare

Welfare paid out nearly €100 million in incorrect payments last year

The rate of overpayment has jumped 92 per cent since 2007, but just 42 per cent of wrongful payments were down to fraud.

NEARLY ONE HUNDRED million euro was wrongly paid to welfare recipients last year.

In total, the department paid out €97 million in overpayments in 2012.

Of that, 42 per cent of cases, totalling €40.9 million, were fraudulent and 37 per cent, €35.8 million, were listed as client error.

Just 8 per cent, €7.7 million, were put down to departmental error.

The figures, carried in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s annual report, show that the department is owed over €375  million in overpayment debts. Over €54 million was recovered last year.

In total, overpayments have swelled by 92 per cent since 2007. In the same period, welfare expenditure has increased by 25 per cent.

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness TD said that the numbers showed flaws in the system.

“The results of random audits in both social welfare and Revenue should be a cause of concern as these are showing up weaknesses in terms of tax compliance and eligibility for schemes.

“Both of these organisations will have to show how their systems and controls have improved so that overpayments are avoided and the proper level of tax is collected.”

However, the report praised the efforts by the Department of Social Protection in collecting debts, with the accounting officer noting the increased efforts to address overpayments.

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Read: Tánaiste: Taxation is not the reason for emigration ‘brain drain’

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