Minister says over €3 million saved in cutting 724 benefit frauds

€870 million allocated for social security benefits - but this includes over €640 million in pensions

Social Solidarity Minister Michael Farrugia and parliamentary secretary Justyne Caruana (Photo: Ray Attard)
Social Solidarity Minister Michael Farrugia and parliamentary secretary Justyne Caruana (Photo: Ray Attard)

A total of €870 million will be allocated for social security benefits during 2015, with beneficiaries totalling 140,000 individuals, Family Minister Michael Farrugia said.

Addressing parliament, Farrugia said the government was set to save €3 million in social benefits abuse after 724 beneficiaries were stopped. He said that 1,281 inspections yielded 724 cases of abuse while other cases were being investigated.

The €870 million cover invalidity pensions, retirement pensions, bonus, widows’ pensions, short-term benefits, children’s allowance, old age pensions, disability pension, social assistance, medical assistance, bonus, supplementary assistance and child supplement benefit.

“These contributions are paid for from taxpayers’ monies and national insurance. We are not attacking those who need social benefits but we are fighting abuse. This government will not defend abuse,” Farrugia said.

He alleged that, in the past, people accused of abusing of the system would seek refuge “in ministers’ offices”.

On her part, parliamentary secretary for elderly Justyne Caruana spoke at length on the integration of persons with disability and planned government investment to open community homes.

She said, that it was also important for parents and persons with special needs to start training, in preparation for when it’s time to let go. €13,000 EU funds will be allocated for this aim.

Caruana said it was unacceptable for people to be scandalised over lack of consultation in government’s decision to enforce a 1967 law pushing for the employment of persons with disability.

“We should be scandalised by the fact that, for years, employers blatantly ignored this law and failed to honour their legal obligations,” she said.

Caruana said society had to recognise that the government was being “revolutionary” in its measures.

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