Welfare bill reduced thanks to more than 21,000 tip-offs

Department of Social Protection saved more than €83 million

Welfare bill reduced thanks to more than 21,000 tip-offs

File photo

The Department of Social Protection saved over half-a-billion euro by preventing welfare fraud and overpayments last year.

It follows more than 21,000 tip-offs from the public about suspected fraud.

The clampdown follows the involvement of Gardaí in the department's special investigation unit for the first time last year.

According to this morning's Irish Times, the Department of Social Protection made "control savings" of €505 million in 2014, five million euro below target.

That means the savings were made in cases where money would have been spent, were it not for fraud or overpayment prevention.

It follows a whole range of new control measures clamping down on welfare fraud.

21,000 anonymous of suspected fraud tip-offs were made to the Department in 2014 - up from just under 1-thousand before the financial crisis.

Despite the high number of tips, only a small number of them result in payments being cut-off or scaled back.

However, 20 gardaí joined the department's special investigations unit for the first time last year - securing €68 million. While the Department made €83 million in recovered overpayments.