“Department of Social Protection overpays €420 million from 2011-2016,” Mattie McGrath
Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said serious questions must be asked about the level of effective oversight related to both Assistance and Benefit Schemes that are operated by the Department of Social Protection. Deputy McGrath was speaking after information was provided to him on foot of a Parliamentary Question to Minister Leo Varadkar:
“What the reply shows is that from 2011 to 2016 over €420 million was recovered by the Department due to over-payments.
It also shows that during the same period the Department recovered over €53 million in cases of social welfare fraud.
These are staggering figures.
While I agree completely with the Minister that the majority of people in receipt of a payment from the Department of Social Protection receive what they are entitled to be paid, questions must be asked about how the Department is persistently over-paying people to the tune of tens of millions of euros every year.
It is not simply a matter of recovery; it is also related to the unnecessary hardship this places on people who while genuinely not knowing they were being over-paid, will still have to repay money they may have already spent on vital necessities.
This places people in a very difficult position since they must effectively make up for the Departments own mistakes from what may be a very meagre social protection payment.
I would ask the Minister to review the measures he says are in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening.
Clearly the Anti-fraud measures as set out in the Department’s Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy are working to some degree.
However when 53 million euro slips through the net in just two years, it is an indication not only that genuine claimants will continue to suffer but that these measures are not as robust as they ought to be,” concluded Deputy McGrath.