To ask the Minister for Social Protection if she will outline the State agencies that provide information or assistance to her Department in the investigation of social welfare fraud; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Protection (Joan Burton T.D):
The Department exchanges information with other Government Departments and agencies for the purpose of the control of schemes. My Department has an extensive legal structure to support the sharing of data for the purpose of controlling the entitlement and payment of benefits. These provisions are contained in section 261 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005.
The Department undertakes a number of data matches with other Government Departments and agencies on a systematic basis, including the following:
Irish Prison Service;
Department of Education and Skills (Third Level Institutions);
General Register Office (GRO);
Commission on Taxi Regulation;
Department of Work & Pensions UK;
Health Services Executive; and
Other matches which have been undertaken include:
Personal Injuries Assessment Board;
Private Residential Tenancies Board;
The Private Security Authority; and
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
In addition, the Department’s Special Investigation Unit also conducts a wide range of control activities and projects to investigate social welfare fraud and abuse, some of which are carried out jointly with the Revenue Commissioner and with the National Employment and Rights Authority. This Unit also participates in operations with other agencies, including the Gardaí, Traffic Corps and the Taxi Regulator.
Data matching with other Government Department and Agencies is viewed as an efficient and effective mechanism to target control related activity. It is an important preventative and detection control measure and the Department continues to explore new data sources in this context.