Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Welfare informants level soaring

Joan Burton says the tide is turning against social welfare fraudsters

The number of people informing on social welfare fraudsters almost doubled from 2011 to 2012, a report has revealed.

More than 28,000 anonymous reports were made to the Department of Social Protection last year, compared with 16,917 during the previous 12 months.

Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said the tide was turning against fraudsters because the hard-pressed public was now feeling the financial sting more than ever.

"I think there's a change in culture in this country," Ms Burton said. "People realise if somebody is claiming improperly.

"Because the money is so tight, somebody else - their neighbour, maybe their grandparents, maybe some other family that they know of, their position is going to be put under pressure, because other people are claiming wrongly."

The minister revealed savings of 669 million euro were made last year through a range of what it called "targeted control measures". That was 24 million euro more than it had hoped to recoup from improper social welfare claims.

Ms Burton said a target of 710 million euro has now been set for 2013.

Last year, the department clawed back 91 million euro in mis-spent jobseekers' benefits, almost 173 million euro in one-parent family payments and 83 million euro in child benefits.

"I want to say thank you to the people who have given information," the minister told RTE Radio.

"One of the things we're hoping this year and next year to improve is to follow up even more intensively the cases that are brought to our attention by the public."

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