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Roundup-Welfare fraud reports up

Tuesday, December 31 08:17:04

New figures show a dramatic increase in anonymous tip-offs over suspected social welfare fraud, with more than 21,000 reports submitted to Government authorities so far this year. The increase - up from just 1,044 five years ago, an increase of more than 2,500 per cent - highlights the extent of the cultural shift over recent years in reporting suspected fraud. The majority of reports related to people allegedly working while claiming benefits - some 8,350 reports. Other reports related to allegations lone parents were cohabiting with partners and that people living outside the jurisdiction were claiming benefits .

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has said that each and every report made by a member of the public is followed up. In a statement, the Department of Social Protection said a payment is not suspended or stopped solely on the basis of an anonymous report. The anonymous report, however, may be a "trigger" for the instigation of a review of a recipient's entitlement. Internal briefing papers seen by The Irish Times suggest a minority of cases result in savings, however.

A survey of anonymous reports conducted recently found almost 16 per cent of the reports analysed resulted in welfare payments being stopped or reduced. Most reports did not contain sufficient information or else involved individuals who were legitimately claiming benefits. The Irish Times

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The family of former billionaire Sean Quinn are preparing to challenge the constitutionality of the IBRC Act to prevent the sale of their assets to a third party or the transfer of their loans into the National Asset Management Agency. The Quinn family and their legal advisers are, according to an informed source, focusing their attention on section 12 of the IBRC Act, which relates to "the sale or transfer of any asset or liability by IBRC".

The family has asked its legal advisers Whitney Moore and Arthur McLean Solicitors to review this section of the Act with a view to mounting a legal challenge against it in the first quarter of 2014. Part of section 12 of the IBRC Act refers explicitly to the area of loans made by IBRC that fall under the area of section 60 of the Companies Act, which prevents financial institutions lending to support their own shares. The IBRC Act states that the "validity and enforceability" of such loans "may not be challenged." The Irish Times

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Two separate rankings in recent days have shown the extent to which the country's debt offering has become more attractive.

Irish bonds handed investors some of the best returns out of 34 countries, according to data from Bloomberg's World Bond Indexes released yesterday, as the Government continued to meet the targets laid down by the troika and then successfully exited the EU/IMF bailout programme earlier this month.

Ireland recorded a 12pc gain, making it the second best performer in the list.

Greece was the star of the show, however, earning a massive 47pc year-to-date return. The Irish Independent

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Ireland's tax rates are an impediment to entrepreneurship and business start-ups, the Small Firms Association (SFA) has warned. It said Ireland had one of the highest marginal tax rates in the countries that make up the OECD.

It said that the marginal tax rate of 55pc for self-employed people at average earnings was well above the OECD average of 36pc.

The comments echo the remarks made by IDA boss Barry O'Leary earlier this month, when he said income tax rates had got to the level where there shouldn't be any more increases.

SFA chairman AJ Noonan said that despite the impact on the sector in the years since 2008, there were still 200,000 small firms in Ireland, employing 655,000 people and 13,000 new businesses being set up each year. The Irish Independent