While it is acknowledged that the vast majority of people on social welfare are claiming the correct entitlement due to them, my Department has a duty to ensure that it pays the right person the right amount of money at the right time. Therefore, it is important that all schemes operated by my Department are subject to on-going control reviews and eligibility checks.
My Department conducted over 742,000 claims reviews during 2018. As part of the new Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2019-2023 published last week, my Department aims to conduct over 750,000 reviews in 2019. This is a key element of the "Detect" pillar in the Strategy where the overall goal is to detect instances of suspected fraud and error as quickly as possible.
Reviews take place across the range of schemes operated by my Department and can take a variety of forms. These include desk-based assessments of customer claims, face-to-face interviews with customers by trained investigators, home visits, audits of employers’ PRSI records, specialist investigations, self-declarations by customers and joint enquiries and operations with other State agencies, including Revenue. Reviews looking at the medical conditionality underpinning certain schemes will also be undertaken.
Reviews arise from both targeted and random case selections and where specific information comes to the attention of the Department. In this context, it should be noted that customers are under a legal obligation to report any change in their circumstances (income or means) to the Department and such notifications may also trigger a review of a person's entitlement.
Control review work in my Department generated over €2.5 billion in control savings over the lifetime of the previous Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2014-2018. Control savings represent the value of prevented expenditure over a future period that would have been incurred if investigative, anti-fraud and control work had not been carried out across the range of schemes administered by the Department.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.