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Government says it's owed €475 million in social welfare overpayments

Minister Regina Doherty said a number of measures are taken to try to recover the monies owed.

Image: Shutterstock/Ahuli Labutin

THE DEPARTMENT OF Social Protection is owed €475.4 million from approximately 156,000 individual debts relating to the overpayment of social welfare payments. 

Of this figure which was correct as of the end of October 2018, €191.3 million of it comes from individuals that are currently in receipt of a social welfare payment. 

Minister Regina Doherty revealed the figures earlier this month following a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s Willie O’Dea.

She said that every effort is made by the department to recover monies owed. 

“The general approach to debt recovery is that the value of an ongoing deduction from a personal rate of payment or a regular instalment arrangement does not impose undue financial hardship, is consistent with what the person can afford to repay and allows the debt to be recovered within a reasonable timeframe,” she said.

As well as deduction from ongoing and future social welfare payments, it also seeks to recover overpayments through regular instalments, attachment of financial assets or wages, or settlement of the estate of a deceased person. 

Last year, Doherty said that €81.4 million was recovered while the figure to the end of October 2018 was €66.4 million.

She added: “The amount outstanding by persons currently in receipt of a social welfare payment from the Department is €191.3 million in respect of approximately 149,700 individual debts and €284.1 million in respect of approximately 106,500 individual debts for persons not currently in receipt of a payment the Department.”

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Sean Murray

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