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Written Answers - Social Welfare Fraud

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 326.  Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins  asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton  further to Parliamentary Question No. 309 of 13 March 2012, the reason she finds it so hard to get the real figures for fraud into the public domain instead of control savings that this Deputy has pointed out are a minimum expected of any public system that pays out money; if she accepts that control savings and proven fraud are not the same thing and can her Department make it clear that our welfare state actually has low levels of fraud; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16740/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton My Department processes in excess of 2 million applications each year and makes payments to some 1.4 million people each week. I want to emphasise again that the vast majority of people are receiving the entitlement due to them. I therefore agree with the Deputy that issues in relation to fraud and abuse should always be reported in a fair and balanced way. However as Minister, I am very conscious of the need to protect public money and I am determined to ensure that abuse of the system is prevented and is dealt with effectively when detected. Social welfare fraud undermines public confidence in the entire system as well as being unfair to other recipients of social welfare payments, businesses run on a legitimate basis and taxpayers. The Fraud Initiative 2011-2013 sets out a range of actions to combat fraud and abuse of the social welfare system and to ensure public confidence and trust in the system. Control Savings are an estimate of the value of prevented expenditure on fraudulent claims over a future period. The target for 2012 is €645m and this figure will be reviewed during the course of the year.

However, the most reliable measure of excess payments by the Department through fraudulent claiming is by way of fraud overpayments raised. In 2010, there were a total of 51,950 overpayments assessed on scheme cases which amounted to €83.4m and represented 0.41% of total Departmental expenditure. The corresponding figures for 2011 will not be available until audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

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