Tuesday 12 December 2017

Crackdown on social welfare claims saved taxpayers €483m last year

Edel Kennedy

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

Figures due to be published in the Department of Social Protection's 2010 Annual Report next week show 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 obtained by the Irish Independent 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.

Other savings in 2010 included:

•€83.3m in state pensions.

•€94.6m in illness schemes.

•€17.4m in carer's allowance.

l€57.4m in jobseeker's allowance.

•€71.5m in one-parent family payment.

Jobseeker payments can be cut off if the individual is deemed not to be available for work or not actively seeking it.

State pensions were also cut after "departmental" and "customer errors" were found. Excess payments to pensioners can occur where there is a failure by the pensioner to disclose all their savings, assets or weekly income.

It is not known how the savings were made in child benefit payments. However, last year the department starting sending letters to the homes of child benefit recipients -- and if no response was received within three months they were automatically cut off.

A Special Investigation Unit within the department works with Revenue, the gardai and Customs to detect fraud.

Irish Independent

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