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750,000 social welfare claims to be reviewed as part of Government clampdown on fraud

The Department aims to save €530 million by tackling fraud over the next four years.

Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

THE DEPARTMENT OF Employment Affairs and Social Protection has announced it will review over 750,000 social welfare claims this year as part of its new anti-fraud strategy.

Minister Regina Doherty has also revealed that employers’ practices in relation to bogus self-employment and PRSI will be targeted as part of the Department’s new ‘Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy’.

Under the strategy, which will last from now until 2023, the Department aims to save €530 million and recover €95 million in overpayments.

It hopes to preventing fraud by deterring offenders, actively pursuing the recovery of repayment money, detecting instances of fraud and error as quickly as possible, and to ensure anti-fraud measures are in place to protect monies entrusted by the taxpayer to the Government.

It will also target serious fraud through a Special Investigations Unit, publicise its hotline to encourage members of the public to report cases of suspected fraud, and work with other departments and agencies to prevent fraud and non-compliance.

Speaking at the launch of the new strategy, Doherty expressed hope that Irish taxpayers would be reassured that the welfare system is robust and effective, and that the strategy would help those who genuinely need the Department’s support.

“I recognise that the vast majority of our customers are genuine and that there are no issues in relation to their claims, but in order to ensure that we continue to target all our available resources to those who need them most, it is essential that we combat social welfare fraud and error,” she said.

The minister added that the Department would remain alert to new and emerging forms of fraud, and that its approach to tackling fraud would be flexible in how it is structured.

Under the previous five-year strategy, in place from 2014 to 2018, the Department claimed that it saved more than €2.5 billion through control measures it had implemented.

However, a FactCheck by TheJournal.ie found that a claim by the Department that €500 million was saved in Ireland in 2016 as a result of the reporting of benefit fraud was false.

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