Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Questions (115)

Denis Naughten


115. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps she is taking to reduce the incidence of fraud overpayment in child benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24203/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

Child benefit is a universal monthly payment made to the parents/guardians for the support of their children. As at 31st May 2014, child benefit is in payment to around 614,122 families in respect of some 1.175 million children with an estimated expenditure of around €1.9 billion in 2014.Safeguarding the child benefit budget is a priority and in this regard the Department has taken a proactive approach to ensuring that it is only paid to eligible families. A policy of issuing eligibility certificates to parents commenced in 2008 and is still in operation. The control policy for the scheme was reviewed in 2010 to ensure that controls in place to prevent fraud and abuse continue to be effective and relevant. As a result of this review, additional enhanced and updated control measures have been devised and implemented. The Department carried out a Fraud and Error survey on child benefit in 2012 which confirmed the Department’s view that the child benefit scheme is a low risk scheme in terms of fraud and error. In addition, the percentage of savings arising from the eligibility reviews has been falling year on year proving the effectiveness of the control programme and indicating that the existing control policy is effective. Control savings in 2013 were some €77 million. An overpayment recovery policy is also actively implemented by child benefit section to ensure that any money claimed fraudulently is recovered. The child benefit control programme will continue to be kept under regular review to ensure that fraud across the customer base continues to be minimised.