IN LATE APRIL, then Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar launched a new campaign entitled ‘Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All’ encouraging the reporting of welfare benefit fraud by the public.
The campaign has generated a great deal of debate, both from those approving of the sentiment and those harshly critical of the policy.
One of the key claims of the campaign (which remains prominently displayed on the Department of Social Protection’s (DSP) website, and was used as a marquee figure in the advertising campaign which went along with the campaign) is that €500 million was saved in Ireland last year on foot of members of the public reporting relatives, friends, neighbours, and acquaintances on suspicion of benefit fraud.
A subsequent 15 May debate on RTÉ’s Today With Seán O’Rourke between south Dublin Fine Gael councillor Paddy Smyth and former welfare fraud inspector Bernadette Gorman saw Gorman argue that the figure is in fact …