Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen has said it is shocking that the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton can’t tell the public how much of the social welfare savings last year, presented to the public as a crackdown on ‘fraud’, was as a result of mistakes or administrative errors.


Deputy Cowen was commenting on Minister Burton’s report that her Department saved €645 million as a result of tackling social welfare fraud in 2011.


“Not all of this recovered money is as a result of fraudulent claims and Minister Burton is being disingenuous by claiming it is,” said Deputy Cowen.


“Much of the €645 million saved last year will be money recovered as a result of overpayments and administrative errors by the Department. I find it incredible that Minister Burton is refusing to say how much of the savings last year were active fraud, and how much was from rectifying errors that were not the fault of the claimants.


“Fianna Fáil strongly supports efforts to crack down on social welfare fraud, and has a strong record of doing so in Government. We must continue to prevent any efforts to cheat the system.  Honest workers who are struggling to make ends meet in the current climate want assurance that others aren’t getting away with defrauding the system. 


“However, the Government overhyping the scale of the problem helps no one.  Turning neighbour against neighbour and stoking resentment about a problem that is not actually as big as the headline figure suggests may get the Minister headlines, but it also has the effect of demonising those who cannot find a job, and further infuriates those who are properly angry about real fraud.”