You are on page 1of 11

Do it for Leo's sake, rat out your neighbour

If you're inventing a fraud problem, Leo, you ought to at


least get the technical bit right
Gene Kerrigan
April 30 2017

Last Friday afternoon, I went online to the Department of Social Protection's


website - welfare.ie. There, I found the fraud tip-off page. A glaring red warning
sign said there are crim
INDEPENDENT.IE
Last Friday afternoon, I went online to the Department of Social
Protection's website - welfare.ie. There, I found the fraud tip-off
page. A glaring red warning sign said there are criminals "cheating
welfare". It says that last year the department saved 500m "thanks
to people like you".
This is not true. That isn't savings recovered from cheats, and it
doesn't come from tip-offs.
Then, in pursuit of my duty as a citizen of the Republic, I reported
someone for abuse of social welfare. It felt good.
Frankly, being old fashioned, I'd be a little queasy if I had to ring an
actual human and report someone and get them into trouble.
Happily, you can now just anonymously fill in an online form.
Which is what I did.
Under "type of fraud" it gives you a drop-down menu.
I skipped "Working and claiming".
I skipped "Living with partner and claiming One-Parent Payment".
I skipped the other six varieties of fraud you're asked to report.
I ticked the ninth fraud option: "Other".
Then the name and address: Leo Varadkar, Leinster House. I filled in
the rest of the form (sorry, lads, I don't know Leo's car registration,
so I left that blank).
And in the special box I added details of Leo's abuse of social
welfare: "Using public money to conduct a phoney anti-fraud
campaign, to impress Fine Gael supporters and enhance his
chances of becoming the next leader of the party."
For the past 10 days there have been posters all over the place, ads
blaring across the airwaves. You're walking down the street and a
bus goes past with a message from Leo on the side: "Welfare
Cheats Cheat Us All".
The message, in a campaign costing a reported 204,000, is
inescapable - your neighbours are crooks and liars. Rat them out.
So, that little bugger around the corner who's forever driving too
fast, with his windows down, his lousy taste in music blaring - it's not
hard to convince yourself he's on his way from doing a nixer to
collecting the dole.
So, online, by phone, scribbled on bits of paper and posted to Mr
Varadkar - every random suspicion, justified and not, is channelled
to the Campaign For Leo.
And, repeatedly the stats are sent to the media, which broadcasts
the latest figures the politicians have "saved". (Those journalists who
are played like fiddles by politicians might ask themselves why
they're given only the number of tip-offs - which means nothing -
and not the number of genuine frauds disclosed by pissed-off, over-
suspicious informants.)
Some politicians seem convinced there's a class of sponger out
there who takes out of society far more than they put in. They seem
to believe there's a pool of deadbeat, money-grubbing chancers
who use every trick - legitimate and illegal - to line their pockets.
And, of course, the politicians are right.
These people are called tax dodgers.
Hundreds of millions of euro are drained from the economy each
year by people who break the law and evade tax. On top of that,
hundreds of millions more are swiped by people who employ
specialist lawyers and accountants to locate loopholes in the tax
laws.
It's long been my belief that when politicians have finished drawing
up financial legislation they pass it to the Loopholes Section of the
Department of Finance. There, an agreed number of loopholes are
drilled into it, as arranged in meetings between departmental officials
and lawyers representing the tax-dodging classes.
Yes, there is welfare fraud.
Sometimes, thieves go to some lengths to steal from the State.
Mostly it's a few hundred here and there. Maybe someone loses
their job, they're on the dole, they owe money, they get the odd nixer
and they don't want to sign themselves off the dole because they
don't know where the next nixer is coming from.
These are not people taking a shortcut to riches - they have given
into temptation.
But, it's nothing we need get excited about. There are substantial
"control measures" in place to police the rules, and 600 people
specifically assigned to protect the system. (The money that would
be lost if these measures were not in place is regularly described by
politicians as "savings" by anti-fraud measures, as though it was
somehow recovered from thieves. It's not.)
There's no epidemic of fraud against which we all need to be
warned, with posters, radio adverts and accusatory buses.
Fraud is officially listed under "fraud and error" and by far the greater
part of the losses are due to error - the welfare recipient's or the
system's.
It might, for instance, be discovered that I've applied for and
received a payment I'm not entitled to. It will be stopped.
But it may be clear my mistake means I haven't applied for the
payment I am entitled to. And the correct payment will henceforth be
paid instead of the one I claimed.
It's not fraud. It's not a problem.
Here's the Secretary General of the Department, before the Public
Accounts Committee in March 2013: "Overpayments in their totality,
which amounted to 92m, equated to 0.44pc of expenditure. The
fraudulent element of that was 0.2pc of expenditure."
Any financial entity dealing in tens of billions will leak some money.
About 50m is a small fraction nicked, but it's real money - maybe
50m or thereabouts some years. Some taken by professional
thieves, mostly in small amounts by people living hand to mouth.
Compare this with large multiples of that amount stolen in tax frauds
by well-off, greedy people.
Far from being a problem, the welfare system is a solution. Without
it, for instance, the labour market, with all its necessary job
transitions and retirement periods, could not function.
Most benefits go to the old and the very young. Again, without such
a system society could not function.
The State is right to take measures to protect public money. What
it's not entitled to do is stage an hysterical war against a non-
existent eruption of fraud, as though it's a major problem for the
public finances.
The major problem is the tax dodging.
It would not be legitimate to mount a campaign demonising business
people as crooks and liars, just because some business people
dodge tax.
It is not legitimate to mount a campaign demonising those receiving
welfare payments - which, in the course of a life includes most of us.
It's morally wrong and it's socially damaging.
For a start, it increases welfare fraud. When chancers like Leo create
a belief that "everyone is at it", it increases the number of people
who believe that fraud must be easy, so they try it on.
Others feel like they're among a dwindling number of honest eejits,
and they too are tempted to have a go.
Smearing a lot of people, in order to demonstrate Varadkar's
leadership credentials is a waste of public money when fraud is at a
low level and is not a threat to financial stability.
I've had my fun on Leo's Fraud Page. I'm not recommending that
others do likewise. But if you do check it out you might note there's
a malfunction in the extremely expensive exercise.
You must say whether you made a previous report on the alleged
culprit - and if so on what date. If you haven't made a previous
report, the site won't accept your tip-off unless you insert a random
date on which you didn't previously make a report.
Not very competent, Mr Varadkar.""
The State is right to take measures to protect public money. What it's not entitled to do is stage
an hysterical war against a non-existent eruption of fraud, as though it's a major problem for the
public finances.

The major problem is the tax dodging.

Gene Kerrigan on the real reason behind the latest Fine Ghoul witch hunt...
"Last Friday afternoon, I went online to the Department of Social Protection's website - welfare.ie.
There, I found the fraud tip-off page. A glaring red warning sign said there are criminals "cheating
welfare". It says that last year the department saved 500m "thanks to people like you".
This is not true. That isn't savings recovered from cheats, and it doesn't come from tip-offs.
Then, in pursuit of my duty as a citizen of the Republic, I reported someone for abuse of social
welfare. It felt good.
Frankly, being old fashioned, I'd be a little queasy if I had to ring an actual human and report
someone and get them into trouble. Happily, you can now just anonymously fill in an online form.
Which is what I did.
Under "type of fraud" it gives you a drop-down menu.
I skipped "Working and claiming".
I skipped "Living with partner and claiming One-Parent Payment".
I skipped the other six varieties of fraud you're asked to report.
I ticked the ninth fraud option: "Other".
Then the name and address: Leo Varadkar, Leinster House. I filled in the rest of the form (sorry,
lads, I don't know Leo's car registration, so I left that blank).
And in the special box I added details of Leo's abuse of social welfare: "Using public money to
conduct a phoney anti-fraud campaign, to impress Fine Gael supporters and enhance his
chances of becoming the next leader of the party."
For the past 10 days there have been posters all over the place, ads blaring across the airwaves.
You're walking down the street and a bus goes past with a message from Leo on the side:
"Welfare Cheats Cheat Us All".
The message, in a campaign costing a reported 204,000, is inescapable - your neighbours are
crooks and liars. Rat them out.
So, that little bugger around the corner who's forever driving too fast, with his windows down, his
lousy taste in music blaring - it's not hard to convince yourself he's on his way from doing a nixer
to collecting the dole.
So, online, by phone, scribbled on bits of paper and posted to Mr Varadkar - every random
suspicion, justified and not, is channelled to the Campaign For Leo.
And, repeatedly the stats are sent to the media, which broadcasts the latest figures the politicians
have "saved". (Those journalists who are played like fiddles by politicians might ask themselves
why they're given only the number of tip-offs - which means nothing - and not the number of
genuine frauds disclosed by pissed-off, over-suspicious informants.)
Some politicians seem convinced there's a class of sponger out there who takes out of society far
more than they put in. They seem to believe there's a pool of deadbeat, money-grubbing
chancers who use every trick - legitimate and illegal - to line their pockets.
And, of course, the politicians are right.
These people are called tax dodgers.
Hundreds of millions of euro are drained from the economy each year by people who break the
law and evade tax. On top of that, hundreds of millions more are swiped by people who employ
specialist lawyers and accountants to locate loopholes in the tax laws.
It's long been my belief that when politicians have finished drawing up financial legislation they
pass it to the Loopholes Section of the Department of Finance. There, an agreed number of
loopholes are drilled into it, as arranged in meetings between departmental officials and lawyers
representing the tax-dodging classes.
Yes, there is welfare fraud.
Sometimes, thieves go to some lengths to steal from the State. Mostly it's a few hundred here
and there. Maybe someone loses their job, they're on the dole, they owe money, they get the odd
nixer and they don't want to sign themselves off the dole because they don't know where the next
nixer is coming from.
These are not people taking a shortcut to riches - they have given into temptation.
But, it's nothing we need get excited about. There are substantial "control measures" in place to
police the rules, and 600 people specifically assigned to protect the system. (The money that
would be lost if these measures were not in place is regularly described by politicians as
"savings" by anti-fraud measures, as though it was somehow recovered from thieves. It's not.)
There's no epidemic of fraud against which we all need to be warned, with posters, radio adverts
and accusatory buses.
Fraud is officially listed under "fraud and error" and by far the greater part of the losses are due to
error - the welfare recipient's or the system's.
It might, for instance, be discovered that I've applied for and received a payment I'm not entitled
to. It will be stopped.
But it may be clear my mistake means I haven't applied for the payment I am entitled to. And the
correct payment will henceforth be paid instead of the one I claimed.
It's not fraud. It's not a problem.
Here's the Secretary General of the Department, before the Public Accounts Committee in March
2013: "Overpayments in their totality, which amounted to 92m, equated to 0.44pc of
expenditure. The fraudulent element of that was 0.2pc of expenditure."
Any financial entity dealing in tens of billions will leak some money.
About 50m is a small fraction nicked, but it's real money - maybe 50m or thereabouts some
years. Some taken by professional thieves, mostly in small amounts by people living hand to
mouth.
Compare this with large multiples of that amount stolen in tax frauds by well-off, greedy people.
Far from being a problem, the welfare system is a solution. Without it, for instance, the labour
market, with all its necessary job transitions and retirement periods, could not function.
Most benefits go to the old and the very young. Again, without such a system society could not
function.
The State is right to take measures to protect public money. What it's not entitled to do is stage
an hysterical war against a non-existent eruption of fraud, as though it's a major problem for the
public finances.
The major problem is the tax dodging.
It would not be legitimate to mount a campaign demonising business people as crooks and liars,
just because some business people dodge tax.
It is not legitimate to mount a campaign demonising those receiving welfare payments - which, in
the course of a life includes most of us.
It's morally wrong and it's socially damaging.
For a start, it increases welfare fraud. When chancers like Leo create a belief that "everyone is at
it", it increases the number of people who believe that fraud must be easy, so they try it on.
Others feel like they're among a dwindling number of honest eejits, and they too are tempted to
have a go.
Smearing a lot of people, in order to demonstrate Varadkar's leadership credentials is a waste of
public money when fraud is at a low level and is not a threat to financial stability.
I've had my fun on Leo's Fraud Page. I'm not recommending that others do likewise. But if you do
check it out you might note there's a malfunction in the extremely expensive exercise.
You must say whether you made a previous report on the alleged culprit - and if so on what date.
If you haven't made a previous report, the site won't accept your tip-off unless you insert a
random date on which you didn't previously make a report.
Not very competent, Mr Varadkar."
Funny thing is, this Government wasted over 80 million just on consultants for Irish Water in
2014 and no one bats an eye...
http://www.independent.ie//irish-water-consultancy-payment
Not poor enough you see... Only blue collars are criminals in this State...
IRISH Water will spend at least another 30m on consultants on top of the
50m already controversially paid out.

Among the biggest earners will be computer giant IBM, which will be paid 44m
up to the middle of next year, with a further 17m going to Accenture and almost
5m to Ernst & Young

The news comes as Irish Water today defended awarding four contracts without
opening them to public competition.

Responding to revelations in todays Irish Independent that the company used


exemptions in EU procurement rules to award contracts for computer services to
firms working for parent Bord Gais (BGE), it said it was scrupulous in hiring
companies to carry out services.

The statement came as management appear before the Dail Environment


committee to answer questions about a 50m spend on consultants tasked with
helping establish the semi-state utility company.

Irish Water told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture
and the Gaeltacht that Bord Gais expertise has shaved close to 100 million from
the set up bill for Irish Water.

Executives told the Committee that the set-up costs for a brand new national
utility reaching into and serving every home on the public water system were
necessarily large, and so it was a priority to manage those costs.

Between now and 2021, Irish Water will save the Exchequer over 2billion
which is a fraction of the set up costs, said John Tierney, MD of Irish Water.
The set up costs could have hit 250million. Instead, the bill is 150million,
thanks to the Government decision to set up Irish Water within Bord Gis and
give us access to Bord Gis expertise.

Managing director John Tierney has previously said that all contracts were
awarded following open competition, but it emerged that contracts for
computer services for payroll, scheduling maintenance works and recording
assets were offered to existing suppliers including IBM.

This morning, a detailed breakdown on spending was sent to TDs. It emerged


that 44.8m will be paid to computer giant IBM; a further 17.2m to Accenture
and another 4.6m to Ernst & Young.

In addition, solicitors McCann Fitzgerald will receive 970,000 while A&L


Goodbody will receive another 2.9m.

The briefing document says that KPMG will get 2.2m, while another 13.3m has
been spent on 18 contractors who were procured.

The companys statement said that Bord Gais and Irish Water have been
scrupulous in the awarding of contracts and had saved at least 58m by using
incumbents to provide additional services.

To ensure value for money and transparency, all contracts have been awarded in
line with the guidelines set out at EU level for public sector procurement, it said.

Irish Water was established within Bord Gis so that the new utility could
benefit from the expertise and experience of being part of a world class utility. In
practice this means using Bord Gais capability running billing, asset
management and utility financial systems.

In order to do this, Irish Water has been set up using the same proven IT
systems and processes as Bord Gis. This has enabled Irish Water to save at least
58m in software licences and also to meet the challenging timetable for set up.

It confirmed the Irish Independent story which clearly stated that no


procurement rules were broken - that the contracts were not opened to
competition because the services would not be delivered on time due to the
technical challenges involved.

The four systems were the CORE HR & Payroll System; Syclo work management
and inventory system for mobile workforce; Maximo Work & Asset Management
System and Click work order scheduling system, it added.

Meanwhile, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin today insisted that


Irish Water would be brought fully under the Freedom of Information laws.
Mr Howlin appeared to reject reports that Irish Water will be open to FOI
requests for a period of around three years.

He said there would be no "hokey, cokey in and out regime", adding: "all the
documents pertaining to Irish Water should be made available for public
scrutiny".

When asked if the 50m spent on consultants to date was value for money he
replied: "I don't know until I hear the full explanation... too many mistakes in the
past were made by not having proper external consultation."

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/gene-kerrigan/do-it-for-leos-
sake-rat-out-your-neighbour-35666823.html

Thank God for this article, the department of social protection are attacking the most poor &
vulnerable in society with this fraud label
lost all respect for leo when I saw him launch this ridiculous campaign and saying people are
coming to welfare offices in beards and make up.
Not one red cent will Leo give them.
the only tool the right have is to attack the poorest in society. to get them fighting each other.
I dislike welfare fraud but it's nothing compared to the horror of an informer society. Shame on
you Leo!
Leo needs to look closer to where he supposedly works, sometimes, for a lot of public money.
There are only two or three occasions in the year when his office is fully attended by all its
overpaid 'workers'.They don't need a doctor's note That's fraud.
Leo's credibility is damaged since he suddenly lost his voice and went hiding on the Garda whistle
blower scandal....( McCabe's reputation being shredded by senior Garai etc) He is a puppet who
has gone along with the charade created by Kenny and Fitzgerald that further taxpayer funded
inquiries must take place ....instead of having leadership mettle. The public are not fools Leo.
The rich are the biggest recipients of welfare in the form of grants, tax breaks, tax loopholes, and
tax evasion. But they've bought and paid the ruling classes so we don't hear anything about that.
Leo's figures are inflated. Figures backed up by the CAG.
There is fraud ... it needs to be tackled ... but Leo is spinning a populist line. See FG do populism
when it suits them.
Far more is lost through the deliberate miscalssification of workers as self-employed. Not only has
Leo failed to address the widespread PRSI evasion, his Dept. along with revenue are facilitating it!
Starting with those that do the most damage. How many bankers, regulators or developers of
poor quality overpriced housing have been imprisoned. How many tax defrauders go to prison?
Sanctions are only for the plebs, offered up as a sacrifice every now and then to deflect from real
fraud and waste
The Fine Gael crowd seem to have a serious problem with anyone claiming benefits. They seem to
forget that up to 2007, Ireland had, what is termed in the developed world full employment,
approx. 4- 4.5%. People want to work. No one is sitting at home saying. Yeah! 193.00 euro &
living the dream. Catch your self on Varadkar.
The Department of Social Protection has contracted two private companies to deliver
JobPath, a new activation programme for Irelands 178,000 long-term unemployed. This
follows a tendering process supported by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion in
London.
A British recruitment firm, Seetec, has been contracted to deliver these activation
services in the north of the country and Dublin. An Turas Nua, a consortium of Irish-
based recruitment company FRS and the UK company Working Links, will run the
programme in the south of the country.
It is understood that each contractor must service 25,000 long-term unemployed people a
year in their search for employment. They will do this through a supply chain of sub-
contracted local, private and not-for-profit, specialist organisations.
We need more scrutiny on the motivations behind this decision and its possible
consequences.
The explicit driver for this partial privatisation of Irish public employment services is the
inability of existing public services to support large numbers of long-term unemployed
people back into the labour market. Certainly, in a context of wide-ranging institutional
and policy reform in labour-market activation, there are significant capacity issues such
that the long-term unemployed and working-age social-welfare claimants outside the live
register have not yet been targeted by activation programmes. However, we need to be
mindful that, elsewhere, such privatisation has been at least partially motivated by the
desire to implement sanctions-driven pay by result regimes which many public-sector
and not-for-profit organisations have been reluctant or unable to deliver.
Activation policy now appears to be moving towards a work first model that stresses
job-search assistance with less emphasis on education and training. In many similar
work first and pay by result rgimes the most vulnerable of welfare claimants (people
experiencing literacy, homelessness, addiction, domestic-violence, and mental health
issues) are the most likely to experience sanctions.
This raises questions about the ethics of such activation regimes, reinforces the necessity
of monitoring the new regime, and underscores the need to advocate to support those
vulnerable to sanctions. Irish society needs to publicly debate issues of sanctions, when
they are reasonable and who should determine their application.
There is international evidence that pay by results contracts can push claimants into
low-paid, low-quality and temporary employment. This leads to recycling claimants into
patterns of low pay, no pay, as they move between poor-quality employment and
welfare. Pay by results contracts can of course require quality, sustainable outcomes
but the JobPath contracts appear ambiguous on this. Payment to the contractors is
conditional on sustainable employment outcomes but a series of temporary job contracts
qualifies as a sustainable employment outcome. Again, this needs to be monitored.
The design of JobPath, based on a work first model, means the private-sector company
or the individual claimant involved will directly pay for the option of training or
education. This will likely mean fewer people being supported in education and training
and a re-orientation to short-term and more vocational training. There will be less
investment in options with potential to realise better long term sustainable individual,
societal and even economic outcomes.
There remains a significant challenge to facilitate access to activation supports (including
childcare) to lone parents, people with disabilities and those who have been without
employment for three years or more. The role of the Local Employment Service needs to
be clarified on this, as does the future capacity of the statutory activation service Intreo to
meet the needs of the long-term unemployed.
JobPath is just another instance of a wider trend towards privatisation of what were
previously public services.
From refuse services to community development to home care, many public services are
now to be delivered by private for-profit actors. These changes have ostensibly happened
as discrete individual decisions, sometimes for pragmatic reasons.
However, collectively, this pattern has a deep impact on what we understand as
citizenship. It has practical effects that are often felt most by the vulnerable and
powerless. This level of privatisation needs careful public monitoring and debate. We
need to be vigilant to the intended and unintended cumulative consequences of this
creeping privatisation

Dr Mary P Murphy lectures in the Department of Sociology, Maynooth University