The Department of Social Protection has revealed that they have dealt with a massive 21,000 people who committed social welfare fraud last year.
The news comes as the Tanaiste Joan Burton revealed that the Department dealt with a large number of reports of suspected fraud totaling 21,088 during 2014. Ms Burton said: “In 14,882 of these cases, a report was sent to the relevant area for examination. “In respect of 6,206 reports, it was not possible to pursue these further due to either lack of information, no claim being in payment or the information reported did not impact on entitlement.”
People who suspected others of committing such offences can report the offender anonymously to the department, the suspected claims are then referred to inspectors for potential follow-up action. If found guilty the offender will either have their social welfare payments reduced or suspended.
Ms Burton said: “While a payment is not suspended or stopped on the basis of an anonymous report, the report may ‘trigger’ a review of a customer’s entitlement.” However the Tanaiste was unable to provide any information of how much the Department had saved through these reports.
The Tanaiste also said: “Detailed statistics on outcomes from these reports are unavailable because anonymous or confidential reports of abuse are used merely to ‘trigger’ an investigation. “They are not taken into account when the review of the customer’s entitlement is being decided.”
Since the economic crisis there has been sharp increase in the number reports of social welfare fraud.