Tuesday 20 August 2019

More than 8,500 dole cheats caught trying to scam €135m from state

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar Photo: Tom Burke
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

More than 8,500 dole cheats were caught trying to scam the State out of €135m this year.

Figures to be released by Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar today suggest that an increasing number of people are returning to the workforce but continuing to claim social welfare payments.

Overall the Social Protection Department made €468m in 'control savings' so far in 2016, through clampdowns on abuses of the Jobseeker's Allowance, One Parent Family payment, Child Benefit, pensions and other schemes.

Some 889,285 'control related reviews' were conducted in the year to the end of November.

More detailed investigations were conducted by the department's Special Investigations Unit, which reports on the most serious fraud cases. The Unit has 110 officers, including 19 officers seconded from An Garda Síochána. In the year to November:

  • The unit has generated savings of €67m;
  • A total of 4,053 case detections resulted in social welfare payments being stopped or reduced;
  • Some 1,734 cases were assessed as having a fraud overpayment with a total value of €26.6m.

The department had referred 148 cases to the Chief State Solicitor to initiate legal proceedings for breaches of the Social Welfare Acts.

A further 150 cases were referred to gardaí under Criminal Justice legislation relating to more serious forms of fraud, including identity fraud and falsification of documents.

Eighteen civil actions for failure to adhere to statutory provisions were also lodged.

Some 20,155 reports of welfare fraud were received from members of the public. The majority of reports related to people who were perceived to be working and claiming benefit or not meeting the criteria for the one-parent family payment.

A proportion of reports also related to abuses of supplementary welfare allowance schemes.

Irish Independent

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