Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Questions (333)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

333. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection the work carried out by joint investigation units established between her Department and the Revenue Commissioners in targeting shadow or hidden economic activity and those working in certain sectors, particularly construction, in the years 2013 and to date in 2014. [24502/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

In conjunction with the Revenue Commissioners, the Department has identified the risk inherent in shadow economy activity as being a key issue to be tackled. This priority to target shadow economy activity is further reinforced in the Department’s recently published Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2014 – 2018. A sectoral approach is being undertaken with projects and operations focused on high risk and particular sectors. At operational level, this is achieved through the Department and Revenue’s Joint Investigation Units.

These units are configured to ensure that an inter-agency approach and co-operation takes place jointly to combat hidden economy activity and detect social welfare fraud. They play a key role in targeting particular types of shadow economy activity in the employed sectors. Some the sectors where inspections and operations have been undertaken in 2013/2014 included:

- The transport sector;

- Cash businesses;

- Contract cleaning;

- The construction sector and especially construction projects where public procurement is involved and once off builds. In particular, very explicit focus is being given to projects under the Education Capital Programme; and

- Fast food, catering sector and hospitality sectors.

In addition, where intelligence or reliable reports are received about persons engaged in concurrent working and claiming benefits and non-payment of tax, reviews of eligibility are immediately undertaken.

These joint control programmes are regularly reviewed and are adjusted to concentrate on the areas of greatest risk, based on operational experience and credible information received from industry and business sectors.