Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (246)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

246. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of benefit fraud inspectors working in her Department her plans to employ more inspectors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11786/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The control process is an integral part of the day-to-day operations of the Department and all staff involved in the administration of the various social welfare schemes are acutely aware of the need to implement appropriate controls at every stage of the process. The exclusive function of the Department’s Special Investigation Unit, SIU, is to investigate and report on fraud and abuse of social welfare schemes. It involves a broad range of management, liaison, enforcement, investigative and intelligence gathering duties and operates at the high or more organised end of social welfare fraud and abuse. The Unit carries out a wide range of control activities and projects and it also works closely with Revenue staff in Joint Investigation Units, with staff from the National Employment Rights Authority, the Gardaí and other compliance and enforcement agencies.

There are currently 91 staff in the SIU. In addition, 5 others are seconded to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and 2 are in the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). The secondment of 20 members of the Garda Síochána to the Department to assist the SIU with fraud investigation work has been agreed by myself, my colleague Alan Shatter T.D., Minister of Justice and the Garda Commissioner. This proposal is being progressed at present and I expect the officers to be seconded to the Department over the coming months. Other inspectors of the Department are also actively involved in control investigations as part of their day to day activities.