New clampdown on social welfare fraud by Department of Employment

by Padraig Conlon

Under a new strategy the Department of Employment say they will achieve savings of €530 million, review over 750,000 social welfare claims and recover €95 million in overpayments.

The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD, yesterday published the Department’s Compliance and Anti-fraud Strategy 2019-2023, setting out how the Department will tackle welfare fraud and overpayment during the next four years.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister said: “I recognise that the vast majority of our customers are genuine and that there are no issues in relation to their claims but in order to ensure that we continue to target all our available resources to those who need them most, it is essential that we combat social welfare fraud and error.

“This strategy provides us with a clear focus to our approach in tackling fraud and non-compliance over the next five years.

“Irish taxpayers, and society generally, need to be reassured that the system of control that we operate is robust and effective and this plan will help make sure that taxpayer money gets to those who genuinely deserve our support.”

The Department say the Strategy comprises four pillars: “Prevent”, “Deter”, “Detect” and “Account”, which will be leveraged to ensure that suspected fraud and non-compliance in the welfare system is kept to a minimum during the lifetime of the Strategy.

An important focus under their new strategy will be the employer practices in relation to false self-employment and PRSI.

“Other key aspects of the Compliance and Anti-fraud Strategy 2019-2023 include: – Continuing to target serious fraud through the work of the Department’s Special Investigations Unit and seconded Gardaí,” the Department said.

“Further investment in Predictive Analytics technology to improve our capacity to detect non-compliant cases.

“Undertaking control surveys of various schemes, including a new continuous surveying approach for some of the Department’s larger schemes.

“Publicising the hotline and encouraging members of the public to report cases of suspected fraud.”

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