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Over 300 cases of social welfare fraud reported to gardaí last year

Social welfare fraud totalled €38.4 million in 2017, down from €41 million in 2016.

shutterstock_619394489 Source: Shutterstock/Cilinskas

SOCIAL WELFARE FRAUD totalled €38.4 million in 2017, down from €41 million in 2016 – a decrease of 6%.

Over 21,000 reports of suspected fraud were processed by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection over the course of 2017. 

Two-thirds of reports received contained sufficient information to warrant concern. These reports were sent for further examination by specialist staff and social welfare inspectors. Of these, almost 10,500 cases were confirmed. 

The remaining 33% of reports lacked detailed information, no claim was in payment as alleged, or the information reported did not impact on the customer’s entitlement to their payment.

The highest proportion of reports related to people who were said to be claiming a social welfare payment and working at the same time.

Over 300 more serious cases of social welfare offences and suspected fraud activities by customers referred to the courts and gardaí. At the end of 2017, 589 cases (criminal and civil) were in the courts system at various stages of the prosecution process.

The majority of 21,292 reports about suspected cases of fraud were received via the department’s website (16,856 or 79%), while 3,475 (16%) were received via the phone and the balance were received by post.

overp There has been a steady decrease in social welfare fraud in recent years. Source: Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

The figures are included in the department’s Annual Compliance and Anti-Fraud Report for 2017, which was published today.

In overall terms, new overpayments of some €111 million were raised in 2017, a slight increase compared to 2016. This represents 68,058 separate cases and the average value of these overpayments was €1,600.

overp 2 Source: Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

The total value of overpayments, as a percentage of total programmes/scheme expenditure last year, was just 0.5%.

Other overpayments related to:

  • Customer Error: €56.4 million (51% of overall overpayments)
  • Estate cases: €14.4 million (13%)
  • Official Error: €1.8 million (2%)

Other findings include:

  • €530 million of savings (consisting of payments avoided and overpayments assessed) made from control and compliance activities
  • Over €81 million recovered from customers who were overpaid in the past

Today’s report is the fourth to be published under the Department’s 2014-2018 Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy.

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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