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Jump in reports of people allegedly working and claiming social welfare

The Department of Social Protection received over 20,000 reports of welfare fraud from members of the public up to the end of November.

18/10/2016. JobBridge Reviews Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar Source: RollingNews.ie

THE DEPARTMENT OF Social Protection (DSP) received 20,155 reports of welfare fraud from members of the public up to the end of November.

The majority of reports related to people who were perceived to be working and claiming benefits, or not meeting the criteria for the one-parent family payment.

There was an increase in many types of reports, including a 38% jump in the number of reports relating to people allegedly working while claiming social welfare.

sp Source: DSP

A high proportion of reports also related to abuses of the supplementary welfare allowance schemes.

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar announced the figures today.

The DSP said around 72% of reports contained sufficient information to warrant further examination and investigation. Some reports result in more than one investigation having to be undertaken.

The remaining reports lacked adequate information or a claim was not in payment or the information reported did not impact on the customer’s entitlement to their payment.

€468m saved

Overall, up to November, the DSP saved €468 million by combating welfare fraud through 889,285 ‘control related reviews’.

Investigations were conducted by social welfare staff, through direct enquiries and face-to-face interviews with customers.

Short-term schemes generated the highest value savings with around one third of the total savings, some €135 million, generated from jobseekers payments.

In most cases, savings arise when a person returns to work and does not inform the department in a timely manner.

Payments under the one-parent family and child benefit payments each accounted for around one sixth of indicative savings, with pensions accounting for around one eighth.

More detailed investigations were conducted by the DSP’s Special Investigations Unit, which reports on the most serious fraud cases. The Unit has 110 officers, including 19 officers seconded from An Garda Síochána, and also works closely with Revenue.

Up to the end of November, the unit had generated savings of €67 million. A total of 4,053 case detections resulted in social welfare payments being stopped or reduced. Some 1,734 cases were assessed as having a fraud overpayment, with a total value of €26.6 million.

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