Social welfare: Gardai checking all PUP claims as huge team of officers investigate closed cases

By Sam Roberts

A large team of gardai are currently investigating Pandemic Unemployment Payment claims to check for fraud and overpayment.

Officers confirmed that they will be conducting checks even on claims that are now closed, as thousands of people who were receiving the PUP have now returned to work.

The Department of Social Protection explained that bank account fraud will be investigated during these "control reviews", while inspectors will also be carrying out employer inspections.

A statement released by the Department on Wednesday 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.

A Garda checkpoint at Saint Stepehns Green, Dublin. (Gareth Chaney/Collins)

"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."

It comes as the PUP itself has undergone major changes as the maximum weekly rate of €350 has been now reduced to €300, while the €300 rate has been reduced to €250 and the rate of €250 has been reduced to €203.

A spokesman added: "The process of moving from the lower €203 rate of PUP to a jobseeker’s payment was due to begin in early September. This has now been deferred until after all sectors have started to re-open in line with the Roadmap announced on Tuesday 31st August and all affected customers will continue to receive their PUP payment until 26th October when the process of their transition to a jobseeker’s payment will begin.

"Work on the transition process will commence at the end of September when the Department will write to all affected customers to outline the options available to them.

"Two further phases of rate changes are scheduled to take place from 16th November 2021 and 8th February 2022. As PUP recipients go on to the €203 rate in each phase, they will be transitioned to standard jobseeker terms."


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