20 Apr 2015

Benefit fraud in Northern Ireland

Benefit fraudsters are being caught stealing £5 million a year from tax payers in Northern Ireland. (h/t Dave)

Yet officials have only been able to claw back a fraction of the stolen cash. Last year £4,986,672 was pinched by benefit cheats and only £302,000 was recovered.

The shocking figures have also revealed almost £20million was paid to fraudsters between 2010 and 2014 and only £3million was recovered by the Department of Social Development.

And it is believed an other £13million goes undetected in benefit fraud annually.

The figures were released to Belfast Live after it emerged a woman who admitted defrauding the public purse of almost £101,000 is now paying back just £10 a week.

This means it will take her 100 years to repay the money she stole, after failing to inform authorities she was living with the father of her children.

Diana Majors, 34, of Shanlea Drive in Larne, escaped jail and was instead ordered to do 100 hours of community service.

When she was arrested she denied that the owner of the house where she was living, was also her partner and father of her children - until the police produced birth certificates proving he was the dad.

According to DSD, the maximum amount of money that can be deducted from any claimant who has defrauded the system is £18.25 a week.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said: “The penalties need to be real, they need to be a deterrent. The recovery figures are laughable.”

According to the figures released through a Freedom of Information request, a total of 4,343 people were found to be fraudulently claiming money over the four year period.

The largest total amount of money paid out as a result of a fraudulent claim during that time was a whopping £114,561.

The figures only include cases where fraudulent claims have been identified and it is believed the cost to the taxpayer is much more. It is understood DSD officials estimate the cost to the public purse in respect of social security benefits in 2013 alone was £16.1m.

TUV MLA Jim Allister said: “These figures show the system is obviously being inadequately policed and individuals are not being properly pursued. This is an inordinate amount of money that is being taken out of the system that could go towards more deserving claimants.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The thief should be made to pay it ALL back IN FULL at once and if she can't then throw her in jail!