Minister Burton publishes Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2014-2018

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Minister Burton publishes Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2014-2018

Data analytics will be used to further reduce welfare fraud


In 2014, Department of Social Protection will target control savings of €510 million

Review 1 million individual social welfare claims

Recover €75 million in overpayments


The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, has today (23rd April 2014) published the Department’s Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2014-2018, setting out how the Department will tackle welfare fraud and overpayment during the period in question.

The Minister said: “The Department’s objective is to ensure that it pays the right amount of money to the right person at the right time, and the vast majority of welfare customers receive only the payment to which they are entitled. I have always championed the welfare system as a safety net for those who need it most. It's precisely because the State's limited resources should go to those most in need that I make no apologies for tackling fraud and abuse in the system.”

Under the ambitious new strategy, the Department will this year alone seek to achieve control savings of €510 million, review 1 million social welfare claims and recover €75 million in overpayments.

A cornerstone of the new strategy will be the use of predictive analytics modelling to further reduce welfare fraud and error. Predictive analytic models allow for all data held by an organisation to be comprehensively analysed to indicate and predict where higher incidences or risks of fraud and error may occur. In 2012/13, the Department concluded a pilot project which demonstrated that the detection of fraud and error could be enhanced through the application of predictive analytics technology and models. As a result, by the end of 2014, predictive analytics modelling will be in place for the three main working-age schemes – Jobseeker’s Payments, Disability Allowance and One-Parent Family Payment.

Minister Burton said: “We must remain alert to new and emerging forms of fraud and abuse and so our approach needs to be flexible and dynamic.  In this context, a key aspect of the Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy will be the use of analytics technology to predict which claims are more likely to be fraudulent. Such technology is already being used by many organisations to good effect - such as Revenue - where it forms the basis for their assessment of risk and compliance activity.”

The Department will also introduce a new debt management system this year which will allow it to maximise the recovery of overpayments. The Department has a responsibility to pursue all overpayments so as to protect public monies to the greatest extent possible. Legislation introduced in 2012 and 2013 enhanced the Department’s ability to recover outstanding overpayments – including the use of attachment orders in certain circumstances where individuals are no longer dependent on social welfare and not repaying their debt. The new system will enhance the Department’s debt management ability and increase the amount of overpayments recovered.

Other key aspects of the Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2014-2018 include:

  • Assigning additional resources to investigate social welfare fraud through the secondment of Gardai to the Department’s Special Investigations Unit;
  • Completing the rollout and further development of the Public Services Card;
  • Enhancing the level and effectiveness of data-sharing to prevent social welfare fraud;
  • Maximising the use of the fraud reporting hotline, which received more than 24,700 reports of possible fraud from members of the public in 2013 alone;
  • Working jointly with other Government Departments and Agencies to deal with the problem of the shadow/hidden economy.

The full details of the new plan, including case studies of successful investigations carried out by the Department, are posted on the Department’s website at

One of the most significant case studies relates to data matching with the Revenue Commissioners to enhance the detection of fraud and address overpayments.

Information was provided by Revenue in relation to people who had received interest on investments made, and it was clear from the information received that these persons had invested very significant amounts of capital. This data was matched with Departmental records where persons had received means-tested payments based on their declared means.

Cases were referred for review where there was a strong possibility that very significant six-figure means from financial savings and investments had not been disclosed. A total of 941 case investigations have now been concluded.  These investigations have resulted in the disallowance of social welfare payments and control savings to the value of €25.7m. To date, overpayments to the value of €9.54 million have been recovered. A number of cases detected arising from this project have and will be brought before the courts.

Minister Burton said: “This is an excellent example of the work being undertaken by the Department’s Special Investigations Unit in tandem with other State agencies. It is simply wrong for persons to be claiming benefits when they have undisclosed means of six-figure amounts or more in bank accounts or investments. It is very important to reiterate that the vast majority of social welfare customers receive only the payment due to them. It is precisely for that reason – to protect the welfare budget for those who need it – that the Department works exceedingly hard to stamp out welfare fraud where it occurs.”

The Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2014-2018 will build on the significant progress made under the Fraud Initiative 2011-2013.

Over the lifetime of the Fraud Initiative, a total of €1.9 billion in control savings was achieved. This is money that would have been paid by the Department but for the control measures implemented.


Download the Compliance and Anti-Fraud Strategy 2014-2018 (420KB PDF)

Last modified:24/04/2014