Social welfare: PUP update as gardai investigating claims share full details of ‘inspections’
A large team of gardai are currently checking all PUP claims.
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There has been a drop of almost 29,000 people receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment this week as Ireland continues to reopen.
The return of indoor hospitality saw thousands of pubs and restaurants across the country finally reopen their doors last week.
And this is reflected in the latest PUP figures released by Government on Tuesday, which show a sharp decrease in the number of people claiming the payment.
There are now just under 163,400 people receiving the PUP across the country.
The figures published this week are in addition to the 175,281 people who were on the Live Register at the end of June.
Commenting on the latest figures, Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys said: “With the return of indoor hospitality, it is great to see more businesses now re-opened as we move into the busiest weeks of the summer holiday season.
“The number of people in receipt of the PUP is now at the lowest level since the pandemic began and every week we are seeing more and more people getting back to work.”
And a large team of gardai who are currently checking all PUP claims have also shared full details of their investigations, which will include “employer inspections”, checkpoints on Irish roads, and verifying the use of multiple bank accounts.
A Department spokesman said: “The Department conducts a series of pre and post payment checks on all PUP claims which include continuing eligibility checks. Subject to these checks being cleared the Department then processes payments based on the clients’ self-declaration.
“The Department runs post payment checks that includes verifying data against Revenue records, examining cases where the same Bank account is used multiple times, examining cases where an employer or members of the public report concerns, and the use of data analytics to identify and check claims. It also undertakes employer inspections.
“This work is undertaken by the Department’s Special Investigation Unit, which includes over 20 Gardaí on secondment to the Department.
“As business re-opens the Department’s inspectors continue to conduct control reviews and matching records against employer payroll data from the Revenue Commissioners to help ensure people close their claim as they return to work. To avoid incurring an overpayment people returning to work should close their claim and can do so easily at www.MyWelfare.ie.”
A spokesman added: “As part of a number of initiatives to detect and prevent fraud and abuse of the social welfare system, the Department of Social Protection participates in Multi Agency Vehicle Checks (MAVCs) on an ongoing basis throughout the country. These MAVCs have been a feature of the Department’s control strategy for a number of years. In addition to the detection aspect they also provide an important deterrent effect.
“MAVCs are set up by An Garda Síochana and planned in consultation with other participating agencies; the Department, Revenue and Customs. They focus on vehicle tax evasion, road traffic or road safety irregularities, Revenue Customs irregularities or suspected social welfare fraud. The timing and location of these checks vary with checks carried out on different days of the week and for different durations.
“The main duty of Social Welfare Investigative staff who participate in these checkpoints is the detection and prevention of suspected fraud and abuse of the social welfare system, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and special powers are provided for in Social Welfare Legislation for this purpose
“The focus of such enquiries is generally related to individuals on their way to work including in commercial vehicles, haulage, taxi and the transport sectors. Where enquiries adduce that irregularities have occurred these are pursued by further investigation by the Inspectors. “