A Department inspector at a Checkpoint
People are being stopped at early morning Garda checkpoints around Kildare to ensure they are not working while still claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), it has emerged.
The economy is re-opening fast in a phased basis in the coming weeks and the government hopes the number of claimants will fall.
However the Department of Social Protection confirmed that “entitlement checks” carried out at nationwide Garda checkpoints are designed to detect and prevent people fraudulently claiming the PUP as well as other social welfare payments.
Drivers and occupants of cars are typically asked for their PPS numbers which are cross-checked with Department records if necessary.
The Department has been running a high-profile public information campaign urging PUP claimants to stop their payments on their “first day back” at work.
A Department spokesperson told the Leader: “As part of a range of initiatives to detect and prevent fraud and abuse of the social welfare system, the Department of Social Protection participates in Multi Agency Vehicle Checkpoints (MAVCs) on an ongoing basis throughout the country.
“Follow-up investigations on cases identified as a result of such checkpoints can include entitlement checks on all Social Welfare schemes including entitlement to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).”
Department officials in hi-viz jackets with “Social Welfare Inspector” and official logo emblazoned on the back attended an early morning checkpoint organised by Naas Roads Policing Unit in recent days.
A local Garda spokesperson later said: “The Department of Social Protection interacted with people in line with Department legislation.”
The PUP scheme has cost around €7.5bn since the start of the pandemic but the government said it will begin reducing the PUP rates gradually. The government announced last week that the PUP will be closed to new entrants in July before payments are reduced from September 7.
Those on the highest rate face a €50 cut while those on €250 per week rate will be moved to the €203 jobseekers’ allowance. Last week the number of claimants fell by around 25,000 to 285,000 — the first time the number of PUP claimants has fallen below 300,000 this year.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.