According to a report in today's Irish Examiner, based on figures published by the Department of Social Protection , there was an overpayments of 92 million euros by the State to recipients of social welfare in 2011, 11% more than the previous year and there has been an 83% increase in overpayments over 5 years totalling more than 348 million! In 2011, the number of individual cases involved rose by more than 20% over the previous year's figures.
Fraud related claims by applicants accounted for some 38% in 2011.
The report states that 'The biggest single category of overpayment relates to jobseekers’ allowance, followed closely by the non-contributory state pension.' The 2012 figures are not yet available,
The Department of Social Protection has the power to automatically deduct 15% from ongoing payments to recoup the overpayments made. However, it would be interesting to see the number of prosecutions taken against suspected fraudsters and amounts recovered as a result and a breakdown on the basis of nationality of the fraudsters.
All social welfare fraudsters should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, as should criminal bankers, but I won't hold my breath in either case.
Read the interesting report here: â‚¬92m overpaid in social welfare | Irish Examiner. There is a link to the actual breakdown of the figures in correspondent Seán McCárthaigh's useful article.