Saturday 3 December 2016

The Government has been paying TV licences for dead people

Ian Begley

Published 27/11/2016 | 17:38

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

The Government has been paying TV licences and electricity bills for people who are dead, abroad or in nursing homes, according to a recent Fraud and Error Survey.

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The discovery was made by the Department of Social Protection who carried out a routine survey into the State’s household benefit scheme.

Under this scheme, those who meet the suitable criteria are entitled to a free €35 monthly electricity or gas allowance, along with a free €160 TV license.

In one particular case, a person who had been dead since 2012 had been receiving benefits under this scheme.

The investigation in 500 specific claims found that payments were being made to 17 people who had died and were also being made to 12 people who were in nursing homes and seven people who were no longer living in the country.

A spokesperson from the Department of Social Protection told Independent.ie: “At the time of the Fraud and Error Survey, there were 420,844 recipients of the household benefits package.

“Of these, 31,000 recipients were in receipt of household benefits only and were not entitled to another Department of Social Protection payment.

“It is important to note that it was this smaller segment of the total number of household benefit customers which was the subject of this specific survey.  This cohort represents 7pc of the total customer base.  The survey estimated that the level of fraud and error for these particular recipients is 5.4pc of total expenditure for the 31,000 customers receiving the household benefit package (only).”

The Household Benefits Package is a package of allowances which help you with the costs of running your household. The package is available to everyone aged over 70 and to people under age 70 in certain circumstances.

The spokesperson added that there is an obligation on all customers of the Department to notify any changes in their circumstances which would affect their eligibility for payments including an absence from their residence for greater than 13 weeks e.g. move to a nursing home or long – term hospitalisation.

“The age profile and vulnerability of this cohort of customer, however, presents a challenge to ensure that timely changes are made to the household benefits entitlements when a recipient moves address, enters a nursing home (often as a result of a crisis in their health) or passes away,” said the Department spokesperson.

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