More than €460m saved from combating welfare fraud, Government says

889,285 reviews were conducted in the year to November

More than €460m saved from combating welfare fraud, Government says

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The Government says it has saved €468m this year by combating welfare fraud.

The Department of Social Protection says 889,285 'control related reviews' were conducted in the year to end November, which yielded the savings.

Investigations were conducted by social welfare staff, through direct enquiries, and face-to-face interviews with customers.

The department says short-term schemes generated the highest value savings, with around one-third of the total savings, some €135m, generated from jobseekers payments.

In most cases, savings arise when a person returns to work and does not inform the department.

Payments under the One Parent Family and Child Benefit payments accounted for around one-sixth each of savings, with pensions accounting for around one-eight.

More detailed investigations were carried by the department’s Special Investigations Unit, which reports on the most serious cases.

The unit has 110 officers, including 19 officers seconded from An Garda Síochána, and also works closely very with Revenue.

Investigations found a total of 4,053 cases resulted in social welfare payments being stopped or reduced - while 1,734 cases were assessed as having a fraud overpayment with a total value of €26.6m.

A further 150 cases were referred to An Garda Síochána for consideration for prosecution.

The department also lodged 18 civil actions for failure to adhere to statutory provisions. The Department also processed 20,155 reports of welfare fraud from members of the public.

The majority of reports related to people who were perceived to be working and claiming benefit or not meeting the criteria for the one parent family payment.

A high proportion of reports also related to abuses of the supplementary welfare allowance schemes.