Thursday, 21 June 2012
Department of Social Protection
Social Welfare Fraud
Question 81: To ask the Minister for Social Protection her plans to address those persons who, with no visible sign of income other than welfare payments from the State, can afford extravagances and public displays of a variety of different natures including, family and religious celebrations; if she has engaged the services of the Gardaí and Revenue to examine the finances of such individuals; if she is satisfied that her department have sufficient resources to investigate such persons; if she would consider the establishment and promotion of a confidential service for members of the public to provide information on such persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30180/12]
The prevention of fraud and abuse of the social welfare system is an integral part of the day-to-day work of my Department which makes payments to some 1.4 million people every week and processes in excess of 2 million claims each year. However, it is important to recognise that the vast majority of people are receiving the entitlement that is due to them. The Deputy may be aware of the Department's Fraud Initiative (2011 – 2013) which is aimed at putting in place a range of actions to combat fraud and abuse and to ensure there is public confidence and trust in the social welfare system.
The Department's Special Investigation Unit (SIU) is specifically tasked with investigating fraud and abuse of social welfare schemes. Its work involves a broad range of management, liaison, enforcement, investigation and intelligence gathering duties and it operates at the high or more organised end of social welfare fraud and abuse. Individuals whose lifestyle and display of wealth or assets are not commensurate with social welfare dependency are targeted for investigation. Where intelligence or reliable reports are received about persons engaged in concurrent working and claiming or under declaration of income, reviews of eligibility are immediately undertaken. The Unit works closely with Revenue staff in the Joint Investigation Unit, with the Gardaí and other compliance and enforcement agencies.
The Department accepts reports of possible fraud from members of the public in relation to the various schemes it administers. To this end, it operates both a dedicated phone number and there is also a facility on the Department's website to make such reports. Members of the public are asked to provide as much detail about the case they are reporting as possible and they can do so anonymously.
Reports can be made as follows:
· By email: ;
· By phone: (01) 6732123, (071) 9672648 or Locall: 1890 927999; or
· By Post: Central Control Division, DSP, Shannon Lodge, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim.
All anonymous or confidential reports are examined and, where relevant, are referred to scheme owners and/or to the Department's inspectors for appropriate follow-up action.
Question No. 82 withdrawn.