Thursday 22 March 2018

Editorial: Welcome crackdown on welfare fraud

SAVING vast sums of money from investigations into welfare fraud is a yearly aspiration of the Department of Social Protection, and one that rarely lives up to expectation. The social welfare system, as any innocent who tries to navigate it knows, is a labyrinth of allowances and entitlements stretching from the cradle to the grave and costs the taxpayer €20.26bn, or 40pc of all government spending.

While there are undoubtedly cases of fraud in such a large and unwieldy system, the vast majority of users are only claiming their genuine entitlements. However, as revealed today, the Department has now teamed up with the Revenue Commissioners and a sample of means-tested welfare payments has uncovered a "large" number paying DIRT tax on savings, indicating that they have not made a full declaration of earnings and bank deposits. The vast majority of taxpayers cannot complain about social welfare payments, as the vast majority of families are in receipt of some form of payment, whether it is children's allowance, old age pension, or other allowances.

However, they do object to the undeserving claiming benefits to which they are not entitled. So this initiative by the Department and the Revenue Commissioners is to be welcomed – and if it can claim back €10m from a "sample", then it is time that more intensive investigations were undertaken.

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