Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment

Johnny Guirke (Meath West, Sinn Fein)
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435. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons that were incorrectly paid the pandemic unemployment payment during Covid-19 restrictions to date. [44508/20]

Johnny Guirke (Meath West, Sinn Fein)
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436. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount detected which has as paid out due to fraudulent claims. [44509/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 435 and 436 together.

While the vast majority of people receiving social welfare payments are claiming the correct entitlement due to them, my Department has a duty to ensure that it pays the right person the right amount of money at the right time.

Therefore, it is important that all schemes operated by the Department – including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) - are subject to on-going control reviews and eligibility checks. This is a normal feature of my Department’s control work on schemes and payments.

Over 800,000 individuals have received PUP payments since the scheme commenced in March this year (with the Department processing approximately 1.5 million PUP applications throughout that period). Up to 30 November 2020, almost 72,000 control reviews of PUP claims have been carried out by officers of my Department, resulting in over 24,200 claims in payment being stopped. This has resulted in savings to the Department of circa €94 million had these payments continued. Over 6,700 customers have repaid almost €6m to date.

In relation to fraudulent claims, my Department does not categorise a case as fraudulent unless the fraud is proven in court. There are a number of criminal prosecutions currently being pursued through the criminal justice system by the Gardaí assigned to the Department’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) in relation to the suspected fraudulent PUP claims, and some successful prosecutions have been achieved by the Gardai/SIU.

I trust that this clarifies these matters for the Deputy.

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