€11m in Job Seekers welfare fraud recovered

The State recovered money last year from suspected welfare cheats who had defrauded theSstate in bogus entitlements concerning dead and blind people but the most money was recovered from Job Seekers Allowance.

According to the Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar his department last year recovered suspected fraud overpayments of €11,332 concerning blind persons’ pensions.

Mr Varadkar also confirmed that suspected bogus payments concerning the department’s death benefit totalling €1,438 were recovered while an additional €390 in a suspected fraudulent bereavement grant was also recovered last year.

Death benefit is paid to the surviving spouse or civil partner of a person who dies of an accident at work or from an occupational disease while the bereavement grant, now discontinued, was paid to people who were unable to pay funeral expenses for a loved one.

In total, Mr Varadkar said that €48.9m in 21,407 fraudulent over-payments were made. This followed 27,437 fraudulent payments of €52.5m in 2014; and €61.9m in 27,489 fraudulent overpayments in 2013.

The minister said €26.7m in suspected fraud overpayments was recovered last year.

The largest proportion concerned Job Seekers Allowance where €11.34m was recovered.

The next highest category was €3.3m for the non-contributory state pension; which was followed by €3.1m in recovered suspected fraudulent one-parent family payments.

The detailed breakdown provided by Mr Varadkar shows that Tipperary and Kildare were the only Irish counties without a city last year to record the recovery of suspected social welfare fraud overpayments over €1m.

According to the figures provided by Mr Varadkar, Dublin accounted for the largest recovery of suspected fraudulent overpayments of €7.75mn or 33% of the overall total of €26.7m.

The figures show that €3m was recovered in suspected social welfare fraud over- payments in Cork; with Limerick’s total amounting to €1.45m; and Galway’s total at €1.1m.

However, the only two counties without a city to record amounts over €1m concerning the recovery of suspected social welfare fraud were Tipperary totalling €1.2m and Kildare at €1m.

Mr Varadkar provided the statistics in a written Dáil reply to independent Tipperary TD, Mattie McGrath.

The figures show that Co Donegal was just short of the €1m figure where €981,388 in suspected fraudulent payments were recovered.

In his written reply, Mr Varadkar said: “In recent years, a number of legislative provisions have been introduced to strengthen the department’s capacity to recover debt.

A new debt-management system was also introduced at the end of 2014.

“The department’s policy is to pursue prosecutions in cases of fraud, where appropriate.

“Fraud prevention, detection and control systems are subject to continuing development to take account of new areas of fraud and technological advances,” he said.


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