Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 8 November 2018
Public Accounts Committee
Business of Committee
We will write back to the Department in respect of recommendation 21 and ask that it give us the number of medical assessors it had, how many have left, how many have been recruited and the net increase. It is fine to say a further three full-time equivalent medical assessors are expected to be recruited by the end of July. That may only be replacing three who have left. We need the full picture so we will ask for that.
Members will remember the use of the word "fraud" in various publicity campaigns by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection whereas we said it should use the phrase "suspected fraud". The Department accepts our recommendation and says consideration is being given to the use of the terminology recommended by the committee. It goes on to say that while overpayments resulting from suspected fraud and fraudulent activity by customers constituted on average 39% of total overpayments in the four years 2014 to 2017, customer error amounts to an average of 43% over the same period and overpayments arising from errors by officials related to 2.75% of overpayments. Obviously, quite a lot is due to error and it is unfair to categorise it as fraud or even suspected fraud. It is important to keep those figures separate and we are achieving that.