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Crackdown on child benefits saves us €148m

A CRACKDOWN on fraudulent one-parent family and child benefit claims has saved the taxpayer over ¤148m.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton also revealed that €456m had been saved through the fraud detection up to August this year.

Altogether 985,000 individual welfare claimants are investigated by officials at the Department.

Investigations carried out through the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) investigated and reported on fraud in the various social welfare assistance and insurance schemes.

The work of SIU involves the detection and investigation of suspected social welfare fraud and working with the Revenue.

Reviews of one-parent family payments accounted for almost €82m savings, followed by €66m of child benefit savings. A further €59m savings were made in the jobseeker allowance and benefits.

Ms Burton said the department has targeted savings of over €645m in total for the year.

"A key priority for my department is to ensure that fraudulent activity within the social welfare system is vigorously prevented and combated," she said.







Payments

"Social welfare fraud undermines public confidence in the entire system, as well as being unfair to other recipients of social welfare payments and taxpayers."

Ms Burton stressed these figures were not actual money recovered, but an indication of the savings made. The fraudulent payments would not now be made to these individuals throughout 2012.

And they do not include situations where the claimant came forward to voluntary tell the department.

"It is important to point out that control savings are an estimate of the value of the various control activity across the schemes in payment," she said.

"They do not include any cases of departmental error or any cases where the customer voluntarily told the department of a change in their means or circumstances, which resulted in an adjustment to their rate of payment.

"Control savings are not actual monies recovered by the department but are a good indication of the increase in social welfare expenditure that would occur without these activities taking place."

The figure is on track to hit the €645m target.

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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