Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
418. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the regularity with which review forms for child benefit payment are issued; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36643/09]
The Child Benefit scheme has, in recent years experienced significant expansion in the volume of claims received, the rates of payment and the diversity of the customer base. The annual cost in 2008 was approx. €2.46 billion and the payment issues now for children of some 190 nationalities living in Ireland. Against this background, the control policy for the child benefit scheme has been reviewed to ensure that controls against fraud and abuse of the scheme continue to be effective and relevant. As a result of the review, enhanced and updated control measures have been devised. These include the issue, on a quarterly basis, of certificates to selected groups of customers for completion and return to the Department to confirm that they continue to satisfy the conditions for receipt of Child Benefit.
In the case of non-Irish national recipients who are resident in Ireland with their children, certification that the children continue to reside here is required – the proof of such residence can be provided via details of the school or college their child attends or, if the child is not of school-going age, details of the doctor or crèche they attend. This information is used to verify that the children are resident in Ireland, and for no other purpose.
In the case of EU nationals who are working in Ireland but who have qualified children living in another EU state, certification by their employer of continuing employment is requested. This review process has initially focused on higher-risk categories of customer and will be expanded to include other customer groups in the future. Customers selected for the reviews have to date been selected largely from non-Irish nationals in receipt of Child Benefit, both those with children resident in Ireland and those working here whose children are resident outside of Ireland.
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