Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, has today (Friday) welcomed this week’s crackdown on social welfare fraud in Kildare and the subsequent break up of a fraudulent gang operating in the counties of Dublin and Kildare.
“Yesterday morning (July 14th), the Gardaí and inspectors from the Department of Social Protection exposed a fraudulent gang which had collected an estimated €1.5 million in social welfare claims over the past three to four years. This breakthrough reveals how effective the increased efforts by social welfare inspectors in Co. Kildare since the beginning of the year have been.
“While this increased focus on inspections is welcome, I strongly believe that more emphasis should be placed on stamping out this practice and that extra resources should be made available to enforce more stringent measures.
In 2010, only 30 inspections were carried out in Kildare. While this number looks set to increase this year with 25 inspections carried out so far, more inspections need to be conducted in places of work and in homes to ensure that fraud is curtailed in an effective and speedy manner. With so many extra people now in receipt of social welfare benefits, it is imperative that fraud does not become common practice.
“The events of yesterday highlight how cooperation between the Gardaí and the Department of Social Protection can be successful in stamping out fraudulent gangs. It also reveals how determined Minister Joan Burton and her Department are in dealing with welfare fraud. But I would strongly encourage such actions to be ramped up even further and for more inspectors to be employed to tackle the full extent of fraud.”