JUNIOR Minister Brian Hayes has promised to take action to recover the “massive debts” owed to the state by social welfare claimants and commercial companies.
It came after the Irish Independent revealed that the Government is considering using private debt collectors to recover social welfare fraud and overpayments, court fines and unpaid hospital bills.
Mr Hayes confirmed that all options would be looked at in the study being set up by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
“We are talking about massive accumulated debts owed to vital public services. At a time of scarce public resources ‘no action’ in this area is not an option,” he said.
Mr Hayes said the fact that €400 million was owed to local authorities and another €300 million owed in social welfare overpayments showed the need for urgent and effective action.
“Particularly when, every month, the Government is spending €1 billion more than it is taking in in revenues,” he said.
He was speaking at a seminar about the Government’s debt management project in Dublin, which was organised by debt collection firm Stubbs Gazette.