Public encouraged to alert authorities to suspected welfare cheats

Minister Leo Varadkar at the launch today
Minister Leo Varadkar at the launch today

Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has announced a new campaign designed to crackdown on suspected welfare cheats.

The new initiative, called 'Welfare cheats cheat us all' was announced as it was revealed that 20,800 allegations of social welfare fraud were made last year.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Varadkar said: “The vast majority of people receiving payments from the Department of Social Protection are fully entitled to those payments and are compliant with the conditions. However, we take fraud very seriously and have a responsibility to taxpayers to ensure that people receive what they are entitled to. Nothing upsets people more than someone else cheating the system at their expense. That’s why we are launching a new campaign to encourage members of the public to report suspected or known cases of welfare fraud.

“Members of the public play a vital role as whistleblowers.  Last year some 20,800 allegations of alleged social welfare fraud were dealt with by the Department. These are investigated and where warranted, payments are reduced or stopped and, in some cases, claimants are prosecuted. Overall, a range of anti-fraud and control measures in the Department of Social Protection saved taxpayers over €500 million last year.”

The three payments most commonly alleged to have been claimed fraudulently were Jobseekers Schemes, Supplementary Welfare Allowance and One Parent Family Payments.

Minister Varadkar added: “The Department of Social Protection has the single biggest budget of any Government Department, spending €19 billion every year. Last year, 1.4 million people received a weekly social welfare payment. Even with a budget of this size, there are still many positive changes I would like to make but have been unable to do so due to budgetary constraints. That’s why savings are so important. And that’s why the public has a vital role in ensuring that we only target resources at those who most need them.”