Speaking in the Dáil on the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill, Fine Gael Cork South Central Deputy, Jerry Buttimer, said that people must honour the responsibilities associated with signing up for social welfare payments.
“A society should be judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members. The provision of social welfare is one mechanism we use to assist those most in need. However, the payments we provide come with responsibilities for those who make claims, including the responsibility to comply with the regulations set down and not to make false claims.
“There must be reform and transparency in the system. This year, more than 1,000 welfare fraud tip-offs are being made every month. Last year, some 12,000 tip-offs were made, double the figure for 2009. Therefore, as our resources become tighter, people are beginning to become less tolerant of fraudulent claims.
“There must be greater activity in the elimination of fraud and in activity related to the policing of fraudulent claims. Despite the fact that the social welfare fraud target for 2010 was not met, almost €483 million in social welfare payments was saved (91% of the target) through fraud control measures, that year.
“Where the illegal use of Personal Public Service Cards and fraudulently using PPS numbers are concerned, the measures contained in this Bill will go a long way towards combating social welfare crime and assisting in the fight against the hidden economy and the black market, which is flourishing. It is essential that value for money is delivered to the taxpayer. Those who abuse welfare payments provided by the State deserve to be held to account and this is part of what we do as a Government. The Minister’s proposals will assist in this while at the same time ensuring that those most in need of our assistance will benefit as required.”