PAC to focus on management of social welfare payments

The Public Accounts Committee will focus on the management of social welfare payments when it meets with officials from the Department of Employment Affairs and social Protection tomorrow, Thursday, 7 December 2017.

The schedule for tomorrow’s meeting is:

9.00 am (i) Business of the Committee
(ii) C&AG Report 2016
Chapter 16: Regularity of Social Welfare Payments
Chapter 17: Management of Social Welfare Overpayments
Chapter 18: Department Reviews of welfare Schemes
Social Welfare appeals process
Social Insurance Fund
[Officials from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection]

Committee Chairman Seán Fleming said: “In relation to the management of social welfare overpayments, the Department recorded detections of overpayments for recovery of between €100 million and €120 million per year between 2013 and 2016.  Over the same period, the level of overpayment debt outstanding at year end increased from €420 million to €482 million. Almost one-third of debt recorded is recovered quickly. Thereafter, recovery is slower and three to four years after detection, between 50% and 60% is recovered.  Some debts deemed irrecoverable are written off each year. We will be keen to examine the Department’s procedures for managing overpayment debt, the causes of overpayments, how successful the Department has been in recovery of recorded overpayments and enforcement action taken by the Department.

Payments in excess of entitlements under the terms of the welfare schemes are irregular. Such excess payments can arise in a number of ways. The level of excess payments found by the Department’s surveys is material and the Committee will want to know what measures the Department has taken to reduce the estimated levels of irregular payments across various schemes.

The Committee will also look at the Department’s performance in implementing planned reviews of welfare claims in payment and assesses the effectiveness of controls in three schemes — family income supplement, invalidity pension and domiciliary care allowance. We will also want to ascertain if the Department has implemented a number of the C&AG’s recommendations for improvements in how it undertakes reviews.”

This PAC meeting will start in Committee Room 3 at 9am on Thursday, 7 December 2017.

Committee proceedings can be viewed live here.

Committee proceedings can also be viewed on the move, through the Houses of the Oireachtas Smartphone App, available for Apple and Android devices.

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Leinster House,
Dublin 2.

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Further information on the Committee