Social Welfare Fraud Investigations

Questions (178)

Brian Walsh

Question:

178. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the number of tip-offs received from members of the public relating to suspected cases of fraud in 2014; the number of these that resulted in confirmation of fraudulent activity upon investigation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6660/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Department receives reports of possible fraud from members of the public in relation to the operation of its schemes and provides both a dedicated phone number and a facility on the Department's website for this purpose.

All anonymous or confidential reports are examined and, where relevant, are referred to the Departments sections and/or to Inspectors for potential follow-up action. While a payment is not suspended or stopped on the basis of an anonymous report, the report may “trigger” a review of a customer's entitlement.

Centrally, the Department dealt with 21,088 reports of suspected fraud in 2014. In 14,882 of these cases, a report was sent to the relevant area for examination. In respect of 6,206 reports, it was not possible to pursue these further due to either lack of information, no claim being in payment or the information reported did not impact on entitlement.

Detailed statistics on outcomes from these reports are unavailable because anonymous or confidential reports of abuse are used merely to “trigger” an investigation. They are not taken into account when the review of the customer's entitlement is being decided.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Question No. 180 withdrawn.

Questions (179)

Pat Breen

Question:

179. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection when a decision on a domiciliary allowance review will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6662/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

A review of this decision was requested on the 29th January 2015 and additional information on this child's care needs has been supplied. The application together with the new information supplied will now be re-examined by a deciding officer and a revised decision made, if warranted. The person concerned will be notified of the outcome of this review as soon as it is completed.

Question No. 180 withdrawn.

Community Employment Schemes Eligibility

Questions (181)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

181. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection her views on extending the eligibility of community employment schemes to persons over 60 years of age who have been unemployed for up to three years and who are not entitled to a social welfare payment, but are signing for credits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6691/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The core eligibility criterion for CE is that the person is in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment, as defined on the Department's website. This requirement is based on Government policy and Departmental guidelines and has been the rule since CE commenced in 1994.

At present, persons signing for credits or otherwise ineligible for a social welfare payment, do not meet the current eligibility requirements for participation on the CE Scheme. They may, however, be eligible for participation on other programmes, although they may not qualify for payment of an allowance e.g. SOLAS training courses.

Such persons are advised to contact their local Intreo office where an Employment Services Officer will be happy to discuss the employment and training options that are open to them.

Within the current budgetary constraints, the number of places on CE has been maintained at 25,300. In delivering these places, the Department will continue to manage this allocation in order to maximise progression to the labour market, while at the same time, facilitating the support of community services.

Fuel Allowance Expenditure

Questions (182)

Seán Kenny

Question:

182. Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the estimated cost of increasing the fuel allowance from €20 to €25 per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6726/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The fuel allowance is a payment of €20 per week to low income households to assist them with their energy costs. The allowance is paid for 26 weeks from October to April, at cost of approximately €195 million in 2015.

Increasing the fuel allowance by 25% would cost approximately €49 million in a full year.

Social Welfare Overpayments

Question No. 184 withdrawn.

Questions (183)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

183. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the options available to a person to challenge an overpayment that has already been paid. [6735/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

When a revised decision on a social welfare entitlement is made, the claimant is notified and given the opportunity to appeal the decision within 21 days. In deciding whether or not the decision should have retrospective effect, deciding officers are required to have regard to the facts relevant to the decision on entitlement. An overpayment is a consequence of a revised decision and is, therefore, not the subject of a separate appeal process. Once the right of appeal has been exercised (or not), the Department will then consider the recovery of the overpayment. At this point, the overpayment becomes a debt to the Department.

The Department has a responsibility to ensure that all debts are refunded in full. People who owe a debt to the Department of Social Protection have a liability under law to repay the debt (Section 338 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 2005 (as amended) refers). They have received money to which they were not entitled.

Question No. 184 withdrawn.

Jobseeker's Allowance Applications

Questions (185)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

185. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection the way means of €54 have been assessed against a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in respect of the person's jobseeker's allowance payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6760/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The person concerned has means assessed on his jobseeker’s allowance claim based on capital held in the bank. He was interviewed by a social welfare inspector last week and was requested to supply documentation in order to complete a means review. Once received, the review will be completed and he will be notified of the outcome as soon as possible.

Social Welfare Offices

Questions (186)

Derek Keating

Question:

186. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 49 of 24 September 2014, if she will provide an update regarding a dedicated social welfare office in the Lucan area of Dublin for the provision of Intreo services; the efforts the Office of Public Works has made; and when this matter will come to a satisfactory conclusion. [6761/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Lucan/Adamstown area has been designated by the Department for the provision of Intreo services. The Office of Public Works has been exploring options in both Lucan and Adamstown for an Intreo Centre, but given the limited choice of suitably sized and located offices, complex property and development issues, and third party interests, this process is taking longer than expected. The Department is anxious to see the Intreo service delivered in the area within a reasonable timeframe.

Carer's Benefit Appeals

Question No. 188 withdrawn.

Questions (187)

Brian Walsh

Question:

187. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on an appeal for a carer's benefit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6766/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 30th October 2014. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 2nd February 2015 and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Question No. 188 withdrawn.

Disability Allowance Appeals

Questions (189)

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

189. Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection when a date for an oral hearing to hear an appeal on a disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 18 will be finalised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6803/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing week beginning 23rd March 2015. The person concerned will be notified of the arrangements.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Rent Supplement Scheme Data

Questions (190)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

190. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will provide, in tabular form, the number of recipients of rent supplement on 1 April 1989, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2014. [6808/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The rent supplement scheme provides support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. There are over 70,700 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €298 million for 2015.

End of year statistics on rent supplement recipients since 1996 are provided in a tabular statement. Detailed information for the years 1989 and 1993 is not available.

Tabular Statement

Rent Supplement: Recipient Numbers & Expenditure 1996 to January 2015

Year

Recipients at year end

1996

34,700

1997

36,800

1998

40,000

1999

41,873

2000

42,683

2001

45,028

2002

54,213

2003

59,976

2004

57,874

2005

60,176

2006

59,861

2007

59,726

2008

74,038

2009

93,030

2010

97,260

2011

96,803

2012

87,684

2013

79,788

2014

71,533

2015

70,761

At 30th January, 2015

Jobseeker's Benefit Applications

Questions (191)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

191. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if an exception will be made in respect of an application for a jobseeker's allowance from a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22, as the reason the claim was closed was due to dockets being submitted late, even though her Department was informed that the dockets would not always be on time from the employer; if the original claim will be re-opened, or if the new claim will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6838/15]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The jobseeker's benefit claim of the person concerned is currently closed as there has been no contact with the local office since November 2014. The person concerned should call to her local office as soon as possible with the relevant documentation in order to reapply for jobseeker's benefit. Once this process has been completed a decision will issue to the person concerned on any entitlements due.