Crackdown in the North on those benefiting from 'cheating' farm schemes
The Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland is to engage in a ‘crackdown’ on those who benefit from ‘cheating’ in a campaign that is targeted at both farmers and those directly employed within the department.
The development comes on the eve of the application by UK, including Northern Ireland, to exit the EU.
In the campaign entitled “Fraud costs everyone! Don’t cheat yourself, help us to help you”, the department is calling for those with knowledge of possible irregularities in schemes and payments to become ‘whistleblowers’ to weed out any unapproved practices.
The call for allegations of ‘fraud’ to be highlighted is accompanied by a direct phone line number 0808 1002716 which has been issued by the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs, Norther Ireland, setting out animal disease compensation, EU grants and subsidies, livestock ear tag switching, abuse of official assets, and inappropriate claims for travel and subsistence as key target areas to be observed by the public.
They are appealing to the public “If you think someone is engaged in fraudulent activity call the DAERA fraud hotline” with the assurance that “All information will be treated in the strictest confidence”.
The hotline process of whistleblowing on ‘cheats’ which is already being pursued by the insurance industry in this country is showing returns for the campaign.
Presently 26 claims for accident compensation in Co Galway, and a further 19 similar cases in Co Donegal are under investigation for alleged fraud, bases on information which has been obtained by the insurance companies.
Two years ago, then Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, said that there was no basis for investigation of possible ‘fraud’ with schemes being administered by his department on behalf of the EU.