Welfare fraud – a culture of hysteria?
Sir, – Jill Bryson(Irish Times, May 17th), writing from London, uses UK data to make some rather misplaced comments about social welfare fraud in Ireland. I don’t know where she got the estimated fraud rate of 0.7 per cent for the UK, but according to the Oireachtas Library and Research Service report Tackling Social Welfare Fraud, the estimated rate for Ireland is between 2.4 per cent and 4.4 per cent, and this is generally in line with estimates for other countries. Maybe because many UK welfare payments are much lower than in Ireland they are not as worthwhile claiming fraudulently.
As for her sweeping assertion that the Irish government has “balanced the books of austerity on the backs of those least able to afford them”, Irish social welfare expenditure increased, quite understandably, during the crisis, and cuts to public sector pay were strongly progressive. Of course there were many tragic and severe hardship cases, but the Irish tax and transfer system prevented a serious rise in income inequality during an exceptionally severe economic collapse.
Please don’t use perceptions of British social conditions to colour judgments of Irish policies. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Has the blunt and crude advertising campaign from the Department of Social Protection launched by Leo Varadkar afforded us a dark vision of a Varadkar premiership? Mr Varadkar’s targeting of the poorest and most disadvantaged members of society in this campaign, and the enthusiasm with which his party colleagues have jumped on the bandwagon, must gravely concern any citizen who desires a fairer, more equal and inclusive society. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – If you are poor, it’s fraud. If you are rich, it’s an accounting irregularity. – Yours, etc,