SOCIAL Protection Minister Joan Burton's efforts to make savings through a clampdown on social welfare fraud and other tightening-up measures are almost €100m off target, new figures reveal.
Ms Burton set her department a target of €710m in so-called control savings for 2013.
However, new data shows just €412m in savings up to the end of August.
This leaves her department on course for savings of just €618m this year if progress doesn't accelerate.
Control savings are an estimate of the funds which would have been wasted if action hadn't been taken to weed out fraud and mistakes in the system.
The figures come as Ms Burton faces mounting pressure from Fine Gael ahead of the Budget to come up with further savings next year of €440m from welfare.
There have been contradictory indications from the minister in recent months as to whether basic social welfare will be cut in the Budget to help achieve the savings.
Most recently she said she was confident that neither weekly social welfare rates nor the bus pass would be hit.
Ms Burton's spokesman said the minister was confident the saving target could be met.
"The department's programme of scheme reviews which yield control savings is ongoing for 2013. With work from the final quarter of the year still to be quantified, it is too early to estimate the final outturn.
"However, the amount yielded from control activity typically increases significantly in the final quarter of any given year, as various reviews are completed and the volume of savings rises accordingly. The department is therefore confident that the target set for 2013 will be met."
The disappointing figures came despite major efforts to clamp down on welfare fraud, through the department's Special Investigation Unit.
Some €47.1m in savings so far this year came through the activities of the unit, €16.9m of which were recoverable overpayments.
Correspondence seen by the Irish Independent shows that up to the end of August, the unit reviewed 23,460 cases – leading to 2,351 welfare recipients having their payments cut off.