Populist Chancer Cheats Us All

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17/04/2017. Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All. Pictured the Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar TD at the launch of a new campaign entitled Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All. The Minister is urging the public to blow the whistle in wellfare fraud in Dublin this morning. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All ads in the Irish Times (above) and on a Dublin Bus today

 

Last week, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar’s launched his Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All campaign.

At the launch, he stated a range of anti-fraud and control measures in the Department of Social Protection saved taxpayers more than €500million in 2016.

Further to this…

Readers may wish to note a piece in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post by Sinn Féin TD Eoin O’Bróin in which he called Mr Varadkar’s figures into question.

He wrote:

[Varadkar] claimed that “anti-fraud and control measures” saved the taxpayer over €500 million in 2016. No detail justifying this figure was provided.

Requests to the Department of Social Protection press office for additional information didn’t help much.

… In 2013, the Comptroller and Auditor General annual report included a section on welfare overpayment debt.

The report concluded that, from 2007 to 2011, 50 per cent of all overpayments were due to error (44 per cent by the client and 6 per cent by the department), while 38 per cent of overpayments were due to fraud.

This pattern was confirmed in a parliamentary question from Varadkar on May 31, 2016 which stated that 21 per cent of identified overpayments in 2015 were fraudulent, 30 per cent in 2014 and 32 per cent in 2013. In each of these three years the total number of overpaid claims was between 80,000 and 90,000, with fraudulent claims falling from 27,000 in 2013 to 21,000 in 2015.

The conclusion to be drawn from the figures is that the number of fraudulent claims is small and that overpayments due to errors by claimants or department staff are more significant.

The big question, of course, is how much this costs the taxpayer. Thankfully Varadkar’s parliamentary question replies are a lot clearer than his press releases.

The same PQ from May 2016 states that the cost of all overpayments in 2015 was €115 million, of which €48 million was due to fraud. The figures for 2014 were €124 million and €52 million; for 2013 they were €127 million and €61 million.

So not only are errors more frequent than fraud in our social welfare system, they are also costing the taxpayer more.

While a large sum of money is recouped each year (€82 million in 2016, €80 million in 2015, €82 million in 2014) it is significantly less than the overpayments discovered each year. So the total amount of overpayment debt owed to the state continues to rise – reaching €437 million in 2015.

What is not clear from the above data is where Varadkar is getting his information that €500 million was saved through anti-fraud measures in 2016. This figure is clearly not the amount of money saved by identifying overpayments. Nor does it bear any relation to actual incidents of fraud in 2016.

But who cares? It makes for a good headline when launching a campaign to tackle one of society’s big problems.

Eoin Ó Broin: Varadkar’s figures just don’t add up (Sunday Business Post)

Pics: Irish Times and Fiona Hyde

Listen back to interview in full here

Meanwhile…

File Photo The association representing mid-ranking gardaí has said there is a crisis of confidence in An Garda Síochána and it is up to garda management to address it. The mood among garda sergeants and inspectors at their annual conference in Killarney, in the wake of the recent controversies over wrongful convictions and false breath tests, is one of apprehension and a sense that they are being blamed. End. A Garda stops a car at a checkpoint on the N3 in Dublin during a two day road safety blitz on major routes around the country. Garda checkpoints are in operation on fifteen national roads to ensure all drivers and passengers are wearing seatbelts. Thirteen per cent of male drivers, and over half of back-seat passengers, do not wear seatbelts.11/5/2006 Photo:Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

moyaghmurdock

From top: Garda checkpoint; Road Safety Authority CEO Moyagh Murdock

You might recall the near one million breath tests that An Garda Síochána recorded taking between November 1, 2011 and October 31, 2016… but didn’t.

Readers might wish to note, in June 2016, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) published a report, stating:

983 fatal collisions occurred on Irish roads between 2008 and 2012, claiming the lives of 1,077 people. The forensic details of 867 fatal collisions were analysed to identify the cause of the collisions – of these, alcohol was a main contributory factor in 330 collisions, claiming the lives of 366 people.  A further 69 people were seriously injured.

This afternoon.

Moyagh Murdock, the Chief Executive Officer of the RSA, spoke to Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio One about road safety and drink driving.

They briefly discussed the false Garda figures.

Ray D’Arcy: “Did you have suspicions [about the false figures]?”

Moyagh Murdock: “Well, I think we certainly were concerned that the number of traffic corps available to do these was significantly reduced. The Behaviours and Attitudes surveys tell us that people don’t expect to get stopped, there have been a significant number of months or even years since the last time they’d got stopped. So that would be very…”

D’Arcy: “Didn’t add up?”

Murdock: “Didn’t add up. That’s all we could say, at that point, was that they didn’t add up. We also..”

D’Arcy: “How did you feel when you heard that?”

Murdock: “When I heard the number of one million? I was completely stunned I have to say…”

Later

Murdock: “What was really worrying is many policy decisions are made on the basis of statistics that we’re given. So we came from a period of very safe roads. The numbers of people being killed on our roads were declining. Yet, we could probably say that the number of breath tests were going up so traffic corps are going to get de-prioritised and we saw the numbers go down. So, you know, publishing the wrong numbers influences the decision of where to send the actual resources where they’re needed and we’re now seeing an increase in the number of people being killed on our roads so these things…”

D’Arcy: “Are you making a direct connection between the two?”

Murdock: “Well, I think there has to be. You know. We look and see what the underlying reasons are for collisions out there, all of the time, foreseeing that people are being breath tested and there is only a small number that are failing. Well then obviously, you have to ask the question, it mustn’t be drink driving that’s killing these people. But..”

D’Arcy: “But it is. We know that..”

Murdock: “It is. We know that. And we know in Ireland, the most recent research we’ve done, up to 29% of drivers have alcohol in their system that was a contributory cause [in fatal accidents]. We look at our near neighbours, in the UK, and that level is at 14% so, you know, we have to close that gap.”

Later

D’Arcy: “Somebody has come up with a figure that a fatal, somebody who dies on the road costs the State, or is it a fatal crash, costs the State €2.7million?

Murdock:That’s correct…”

D’Arcy: “How does that figure come about?”

Murdock: “That was carried out by, we got, I think it was Pricewaterhouse [Cooper] did it for us, carrying out the number of lives affected, the cost to the State for rehabilitation, the cost to the State for the loss of someone contributing as a taxpayer, the cost of support services, the cost of all the emergency services…”

D’Arcy: “A fatal crash costs €2.7million.”

Murdock: “It does, yeah.”

Rollingnews

52 thoughts on “Populist Chancer Cheats Us All

  1. Percival

    Just more Fine Gael divide and conquer cynicism. Pity they don’t have similar campaigns to highlight white collar tax dodging which costs the state €billions.

    Hate each other!

    1. Happy Molloy

      If you don’t like the concept of divide and conquer then give up banging on about class. You’re living in a republic my friend, no one is your better.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        ‘*You’re* the racist for bringing up racism. There’s no racist laws so racism doesn’t exist.’

    2. classter

      Instead of fighting against a campaign on social welfare, we should be demanding similar campaigns on white collar crime.

      Don’t get me wrong, the latter is far more significant and damaging than the former but it isn’t Varadkar’s department. Frances Fitz and Noonan should be on the case. Instead, we’re moaning about the former and the latter is being ignored.

  2. Starina

    there’s a subtle underlying message to those welfare ads as well – you know the way if a word repeats your brain will automatically skip one? you mightn’t even notice the duplication. so the message many are getting as the glance at the banner rolling past is “welfare cheats us all”. nice.

  3. MoyestWithExcitement

    “What is not clear from the above data is where Varadkar is getting his information that €500 million was saved through anti-fraud measures in 2016. This figure is clearly not the amount of money saved by identifying overpayments. Nor does it bear any relation to actual incidents of fraud in 2016.”

    Leo Varadkar is legitimately dangerous.

  4. Anne

    Is the BS figures from Varadkar on social welfare fraud not worth it’s own post d’ye think?

  5. realPolithicks

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
    Mark Twain…amongst others.

  6. Daisy Chainsaw

    How much is being wasted on this campaign? Wouldn’t it be better to invest in better anti-fraud measures than attempting to demonise the “unworthy” poor?

    1. Anne

      Or invest in refunding the hundreds of millions overpaid in PAYE, PRSI, and unclaimed tax relief.
      Or invest (i.e. not promote and personally wine & dine ala Baldy Noonan) in policies to reduce tax avoidance, by companies making huge profits, but paying little to no tax.

  7. Happy Molloy

    I don’t get the outrage here, this is his brief and it’s his responsibility to ensure compliance with the rules set as set out.

    It’s akin to revenue chasing defaulters or justice having a facility like crime callers.

    There’s no shame in being on the dole but you can feck off if you’re gonna profit from dishonesty.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          That’s quite the disingenuous response. Comparing a page from the Revenue website with a big eye catching marketingy ad on the side of a bus. You know full well that’s horseshyte.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Fella, have some dignity. That was such nonsense part of me thinks you were joking.

      1. classter

        It shouldn’t be the case that we either crack down on welfare fraud or we crack down on tax dodgers.

        For what it is worth, the Revenue are one of the most competent and well-resources arms of govt.

    1. Anne

      Read the piece again. His figures are nonsense.

      The demonising of the those on social welfare, while actively promoting tax avoidance for the wealthy is something that should cause outrage.

      We all know who’s really cheating us.. and it’s not those on 188 a week, who are ill or are not employable for whatever reason..

      1. Happy Molloy

        how is it demonising people on social welfare? are we demonising drivers by asking them to report dangerous driving?

        with regards to any other cheating, he can only do what’s in his brief. and he has a responsibility to the taxpayers, in a rational world it would be seen as a good thing that rules were enforced.

        and tax defaulters are regularly listed and shamed in the papers. proper order too.

        1. anne

          baldy noonan’s brief seems to be to the wealthy vultures he keeps personally wining and dining with.

          you know well with these sort of campaigns on hugely exaggerated welfare fraud figures, people on social welfare are being stigmatised even more than they already are.

          Watch Ken Loach’s latest film in this ‘I Daniel Blake’ to see the despicable carry on in the U.K. for those in need of social welfare..

          1. classter

            ‘I, Daniel Blake’ is more about what happens when a govt outsources social welfare to private companies and incentivises them financially to make savings, no?

          2. anne

            The man is very ill and can’t work.

            Governments get away with treating those who need social protection like that, by demonising them, fabricating lies about vast fraud that’s not happening.

          3. Mickey Twopints

            ‘I, Daniel Blake’ is more about what happens when a govt outsources social welfare to private companies and incentivises them financially to make savings, no?

            Turas Nua?
            Seetac?

          4. rotide

            Anne, you might be interested in a documentary i saw a few years ago. It was all about the racist state of Jamaica punished black people who couldn’t run fast enough by making them run in the snow and ice and only letting them get home in a sliding car thing. Would turn your stomach the treatment they got.

            I think it was called Cold Walking or something…

          5. Mickey Twopints

            Having just watched a few trailers online, I’ve just ordered a copy of this movie Anne, thank you for the tip. I know of two people in the UK who work in a voluntary capacity (food bank volunteers) and the stories they relate are harrowing.

          6. classter

            Apologies, badatmemes.

            If it’s any consolation I don’t think I’ve given too much away.

          7. classter

            Apologies, badatmemes.

            If it’s any consolation I don’t think I’ve given too much away.

          8. classter

            @Micky Twopints

            Do Turas Nua and Seetac process social welfare payments? Are they incentivised to deny welfare entitlements?

            I hadn’t realised that, if so

        2. know man is an island

          You can always be relied on to parrot some kind of Pravda stuff like this Harry, the lack of self awareness is charming in some but not in your case

          1. Happy Molloy

            false welfare claims are stealing from the taxpayer. if you don’t have an issue with it here you can’t complain about it elsewhere.

            I don’t even have a response to the hyperbolic Pravda piece, what would be the point :-)

          2. anne

            not taxing the wealthy..wining and dining with the vultures is costing us much much more.

            read the piece again..leo’s numbers are not accurate.

          3. MoyestWithExcitement

            You already said that and a couple of people have given reasonable responses, explaining what the issue is. Why are you responding by juat saying the same thing again?

  8. gringo

    Vlad and the cork cove have one thing in common. They both use false figures to lie to the public.

    1. anne

      That’s the nub of it..’jealous of your neighbour with their new telly, c’mon rat them to Leo, you know you want to’.

      1. Kieran Nice Young Chap

        Between this and the ‘peaceful protest’ trial, seems like some people don’t want laws to apply to certain segments of society

  9. Kolmo

    500 Million = it’s a POMA* number.
    Another cynical low hanging fruit campaign by anti-society types to get the easily influenced riled up.
    Absolute useless set of clowns.

    *Pulled outta my ass (c. 2008, Dublin, Ireland, Director of a criminally mismanaged bank that crippled us all..)

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