Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Questions (332)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

332. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection if there is a forum of social protection authorities from this jurisdiction and from Northern Ireland examining the issue of persons who are employed in either jurisdiction but who are also availing of social protection payments; and if she will provide an overview of the work completed by this forum to date. [24501/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

As part of its approach to the prevention and detection of social welfare fraud, the Department has formed alliances and developed mutual assistance agreements with a range of enforcement and compliance agencies.

In the context of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, there is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between our Governments concerning matters of mutual interest in the areas of fraud in the respective social security systems. Under the MOU, there are formal structures between the three relevant Departments which exercise oversight on issues of mutual co-operation – the UK Department of Work & Pensions (DWP), the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency (NISSA) of the Department for Social Development and this Department.

The Cross-Border Operational Forum operates under this MOU and comprises senior investigators from the relevant Departments. The Forum’s remit is to liaise at an operational level, under the aegis of the MOU, and to ensure that measures are in place to ensure effective co-operation, prevention and detection of fraud.

At an operational level, there is ongoing co-operation in both jurisdictions to assist the investigation of cross-jurisdictional fraud. Case-by-case information exchanges and data-matching takes places between the Department and the NISSA Northern Ireland and the UK DWP on cases where social welfare fraud or abuse is occurring.

In addition, there is an active and ongoing relationship between the Department’s SIU officers and their counterparts in the Fraud Investigation Service in Northern Ireland and Serious and Organised Fraud Branch in the UK DWP.

These measures are in place to ensure co-operation and mutual assistance in dealing with instances of social welfare fraud.