Saturday 16 December 2017

Fraud fears delay dole e-payments

John Drennan

John Drennan

PLANS to move to 'cashless' electronic social welfare payments will be delayed due to growing concerns over the potential for fraud, the Sunday Independent has learned.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton informed ministers of the delay in phasing out over-the-counter payments at last week's cabinet meeting.

Half of the 87 million social welfare payments are made in cash, which is six times more expensive to process than epayments.

Ms Burton secured cabinet approval in July to implement a new "payment strategy" over the next two years.

The plan will see the "overwhelming majority" of social protection customers receiving payments directly into their bank accounts, rather than over the counter.

The changeover, however, is likely to be delayed by growing concerns over the potential for fraud in the new epayments system.

In a memo to Cabinet last week, Ms Burton informed her colleagues of her intention to delay the process of choosing which company will implement the new system.

First, the Department of Social Protection will engage with the epayments industry to ensure it has "a sufficient understanding of the department's identity and fraud control requirements".

Ms Burton told ministers that she wanted to contact her department's counterparts in other EU countries to examine the measures they had implemented to reduce the risk of fraud.

"The goal with the new two-step process is to examine how the levels of assurance and services available with existing cash payment processes could be replicated with electronic payments to ensure that only those entitled to welfare payments receive them," a source said.

Sunday Independent

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