Friday 24 November 2017

Checks at airport catch 100 'welfare tourists'

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

ONE hundred people have been caught at Dublin Airport flying back into the country to sign on for social welfare payments.

Social welfare inspectors were given the power last May to mount checks on suspected "welfare tourists" – who are living abroad but coming back regularly to sign on for social welfare payments.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said that the power that had now been granted to inspectors to stop people at airports was having an impact in the fight against fraud.

"In Dublin Airport alone, we're at 100 people who have been stopped and identified and their payments stopped," she said.

Ms Burton said that social welfare inspectors were focusing on people who were constantly visiting the country – "say on a monthly basis" – but did not appear to live here.

She said that the rollout of the new public services ID card – which contains a photo of the person claiming a social welfare payment – was also significant.

"The public's attitude has changed to such a degree that nobody had objected, because people recognise that a system like this will help us to combat fraud," she said.

The aim of the card is to reduce the possibility for people to falsely claim social welfare payments by pretending to be someone else.

Irish Independent

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