O Cuiv declares war on welfare fraud and waste
Minister for Social Protection Eamon O Cuiv is set to declare war on social welfare abuse as part of the preparations for the forthcoming December Budget.
Last week, the minister declared his determination not only to tackle the short-term costs associated with social welfare abuse, but to shake up the system by taking a long-term, radical approach to the entire social welfare operation. He told the Sunday Independent that he was setting out on a road of reform that would last "long after the life of this Government and my ministry".
On short-term savings, Mr O Cuiv identified areas for particular attention as being false claims for child benefit, co-habiting couples claiming two rent allowances and working people in the black economy drawing unemployment benefit.
Admitting that he was not aware of the size of the black economy, the minister warned that the savings would be both "deep and narrow". He confirmed that letters had been sent out to all recipients of child benefit asking them to confirm their residence, but they were being cut off if there was no response after three months.
Similarly energetic interview programmes were currently being held under the Employment Action Programme, revealing a substantial number of unemployed not turning up for consultation about their skills and prospects. He was also looking at sanctions against those on the live register refusing work.
Longer-term, the minister has ordered several radical reports to be published within the department "to eliminate the twists and turns in the welfare schemes".
He is already examining the possibility of giving a single family payment to avoid the multitude of claim forms necessary, while he is looking at the medium-term benefits to the Exchequer of means testing social welfare recipients.