Belfast Telegraph

Welfare review saves 345m euro

A review of more than 350,000 social welfare claims has netted the Government almost 345 million euro in savings.

Fraudsters collecting pension payments, unemployment and sickness benefits and the one-parent family allowance were targeted by officials from the Department of Social Protection.

Minister Joan Burton revealed the savings were made in the first seven months of the year through a range of fraud and control measures.

She said it was not acceptable that fraud and abuse of the social welfare system was tolerated given the constraints on public expenditure.

"Vigorously preventing and combating fraudulent activity within the social welfare system is a key priority that I have set for my department," she added.

Some 8,560 anonymous calls were made to report suspected abuse of the system up to the end of July, including working and claiming, cohabitation and living outside the country.

The figure has soared from 1,044 in 2008, to 6,429 in 2009 and 12,648 last year.

Officials also carried out more than 990 employer PRSI inspections to check their compliance.

Ms Burton said she will also launch though new measures next month that will ensure an integrated approach is taken to the prevention, deterrence and detection of social welfare fraud.

"The new plan will take a revised and renewed approach to tackling the challenges posed by social welfare fraud while also recognising that it is important that access to the department's services is not unnecessarily difficult for genuine customers," she added.

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