Tuesday 25 October 2016

Welfare overpaid claimants by €300m in just three years

Tanaiste Joan Burton
Tanaiste Joan Burton

JOAN Burton's Department of Social Protection overpaid more than €300m in social welfare payment in three years, the Herald can reveal.

Figures released by Ms Burton's office show €21m of these overpayments were a result of errors by departmental staff.

Another €119m was a result of errors made by people who were in receipt of social welfare payments.

A further €138m was a result of social welfare fraud, while €38m related to cases where undisclosed means arose after a person's death.

The figures were provided to Fianna Fail social protection spokesman Willie O'Dea through a parliamentary question. The figures cover the period form 2011 to 2013.


Speaking to the Herald, Mr O'Dea criticised Ms Burton's focus on social welfare cheats without taking responsibility for the mistakes her own departmental staff are making.

"Joan Burton has been making a lot of noise about combatting fraud and saying fraud is the main problem in the social welfare system, but it isn't," he said.

"A large proportion of overpayments are as a result of errors made by claimants or by Department of Social Protection staff."

Mr O'Dea also criticised the Department's "heavy-handed" approach to tackling social welfare fraud.

"Just because a small percentage of people are involved in social welfare fraud does not mean you have to treat everyone else like they are up to the same thing. "

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