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Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton. Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
Social Welfare

€669 million saved through social welfare control measures in 2012

Jobseeker’s benefit was the only payment that had a lower rate of suspected fraud than departmental error.

THE MINISTER FOR Social Protection Joan Burton has said that some €669 million has been saved in her department through a broad range of control measures to address fraudulent claims and errors.

In total, more than one million reviews of individual social welfare claims were carried out, again exceeding target, which had been set at 985,000.

The progress report on the department’s ‘Fraud Initiative 2011-2013′, published today, shows that fraud and error claims for child benefit amount to just 0.5 per cent of expenditure. Of this, all 0.5 per cent related to suspected fraud and 0 per cent to error.

The total cost of fraud and error claims for disability allowance was 2.1 per cent with 1.2 per cent of this related to suspected fraud. The one parent family payment was found to have fraudulent or error claims totalling 2.7 per cent with 2.3 per cent related to suspected fraud.

The only area which had a lower rate of suspected fraud than error was Jobseeker’s Benefit which had a net cost of these types of claims of 1.6 per cent. Just 0.1 per cent of this was found to be related to suspected fraud and 1.5 per cent was related to error in the department

A total of 28,022 reports of fraud and abuse were dealt with in 2012 with most relating to allegations that a person was working and claiming benefits.

Using a predictive analytics model to identify certain groups that were likely to be non-compliant, 1,000 jobseeker cases were chosen and investigated to determine whether their claims were fraudulent.

The department’s ‘hit rate’, or accuracy in predicting this non-compliance in the people investigated, rose from 4.5 per cent to 6.3 per cent.

Based on the findings from the pilot, the department said that using this system to drive jobseeker investigations could deliver a further €50 million approximately in jobseeker welfare savings over three years.

Speaking today, Burton said the figures demonstrate the department’s commitment to stamping out welfare fraud and abuse.

“I have always championed the welfare system as a safety net for those who need it most, and that safety net is more important than ever in the current economic climate,” she said. “However, it’s precisely because the State’s limited resources should go to those most in need that we need to prevent fraud and abuse in the system.”

As a result of the department’s performance in this area, Burton has now set a target for €710 million in control savings to be achieved this year.

Read: New figures on foreign nationals ‘debunk migrant welfare myth’>
More: Only 61pc of families to receive full child benefit payments under new proposals>

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