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Contents for Issue October 2019

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Compliance and Anti-fraud Strategy 2019-2023

“Feedback from the INOU’s welfare rights, training and development work highlight that a number of people are not on the most appropriate payment; and that many people are unaware of the available supports to assist them to make the welfare to work journey.”

In the INOU’s E-bulletin Issue 37, published March 2019, there was an article summarising the organisation’s submission to the development of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s control strategy, which is available at https://www.inou.ie/newsandupdates/newsletter/2019/03/26/control-strategy-20192023/

On Monday, 16th September, 2019 the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty TD, published the Department’s Compliance and Anti-fraud Strategy 2019-2023, setting out how the Department will tackle welfare fraud and overpayment during the period in question. It is striking that the overall objective of the strategy is “to pay the right people, the right amount, through the right scheme/programme, at the right time”. (p6) It is how this is done that will be the critical question. Feedback from the INOU’s welfare rights, training and development work highlight that a number of people are not on the most appropriate payment; and that many people are unaware of the available supports to assist them to make the welfare to work journey.

In the last E-bulletin, Issue 38, there was an article on the Ombudsman report entitled ‘Fair Recovery: How complaints helped to improve the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s handling of overpayments’. This report highlighted how the Department dealt with concerns about the methods of recovery of overpayments which had been made to social welfare recipients. The report also discusses how intervention by the Office of the Ombudsman led to the improvement of outcomes for claimants, as well as the development of better decision making processes. This article is available at https://www.inou.ie/newsandupdates/newsletter/2019/09/12/fair-recovery-report-from-the-office-of-the-ombudsman/

The Compliance and Anti-fraud Strategy 2019-2023 comprises four pillars: prevention; deterrence; detection; and accountability.

Under Pillar 1 the goal is “to prevent fraud and error entering the social welfare system”.

On page 7 the Department say they will “Provide clear and understandable information to help customers to minimise error. We will do this through publicity campaigns, information leaflets, the Department’s website and through the assistance provided by Department staff;”  

Later on they say they will “Conduct a media campaign aimed at increasing public awareness of customers’ obligations to claim their correct entitlement and inform the Department of changes in their circumstances which can impact on their payments.”

Under Pillar 2 the goal is “to discourage non-compliance with the social welfare system”.

On page 8 the Department notes that they will “Ensure that a comprehensive programme of employer inspections and initiatives are in place. This will help to address concerns around false self-employment and employer practices in relation to PRSI”.

Under Pillar 3 the goal is “to detect instances of suspected fraud and error as quickly as possible”.

On page 9 of the Strategy it notes they will “Invest in further predictive modelling. This will improve our capacity to detect more non-compliant cases, improve non-compliance processes and controls and identify trends that will help to develop more effective control policies”.

Under Pillar 4 the goal is “to have appropriate governance & oversight arrangements in place”.

On page 10 the Department says they will “Publish an Annual Report on control activities each year. The annual report will outline progress in relation to the implementation of this Strategy. It will document the various control activities carried out by the Department during the previous year and give details of performance against targets”.

If you wish to read the full Strategy please follow this link http://www.welfare.ie/en/downloads/Compliance-and-Anti-fraud-Strategy-2019-2023.pdf