Thursday, 7 March 2013

Questions (134)

Denis Naughten


134. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social Protection when the audit of the child benefit scheme will be published; the reason for the delay in publishing the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12247/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Fraud and error surveys are an integral part of the Department’s overall approach to control and tackling social welfare fraud. They provide the Department with an indicator of the estimated risk of non-compliance with scheme rules within the specific schemes surveyed and enable it to enhance procedures and processes to build control across the relevant schemes. The Department establishes the risk and exposure of fraud and error within its schemes by conducting fraud and error surveys at regular intervals. A key commitment in the Department's Fraud Initiative 2011-13 is to undertake at least two fraud and error surveys each year up to the end of 2017. Four fraud and error surveys have been completed by the Department in the past year. The survey on Child Benefit was completed in January 2013. The survey report is now finalised and will be published shortly.

The survey showed a very low level of fraud in relation to the scheme which underlines the effectiveness of the scheme's control policy. Survey results are presented in terms of the net rate of fraud and error. The net rate refers to the position after account is taken of decreases in weekly rate, increases in weekly rate, terminations of payment, transfers to other payments and the position following appeal of any cases affected. In order to ensure the measure of the fraud and error level for the scheme surveyed is accurate and is in line with the criteria that has been previously agreed with the Comptroller and Auditor General, a certain amount of time must be allowed following the survey to ensure that all cases that go back into payment or the outcomes of appeal cases are included in the final report.