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Burton bid to catch dole cheats is lashed

Welfare Miinister Joan Burton's threat to punish work dodgers has come under fire from an unemployment group.

Ms Burton said that those who refuse to take up job or train opportunities would see their payments cut by up to €44 a week.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister Burton said there was an abuse of the system at a rate of between 1pc and 3pc.

Responding, Brid O'Brien, of the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed, said the problem was a lack of choice and that the Minister should be focusing on a system of job creation.

The Government saved €483m in taxpayers' cash last year after carrying out almost one million reviews of social welfare claims.

Figures published in the Department of Social Protection's 2010 Annual Report showed that the biggest savings -- made because payments were ended or reduced -- were in the area of child benefit, where 514,000 reviews resulted in a reduction of €107.6m in payments.

The figures show a total of 929,000 reviews of claims were carried out over the year to ensure the claims were legitimate and the correct sum was being paid.