Sunday, November 01, 2009

Child benefit - odd figures or evidence of fraud?

The Sunday Telegraph reports today that people are claiming child benefit in the UK for 50,000 children who live outside the UK. This is an issue that's been getting more airtime and column inches here lately, what with all the talk of cuts to child benefit, etc. Something in the order of 10,000 children are resident in another EU state, but being claimed for from here.

There are two issues here: (1) should people whose children reside in another state claim child benefit here simply because they work here and (2) are some of these people claiming child benefit for children who live elsewhere committing fraud.

I listened to a discussion on the radio earlier this week where one speaker - can't remember who what was now, but from the Labour Party - indicated that they thought fraud was an issue. The other speaker on the program said there was no evidence of any fraud in the benefit system.

Most of the discussion was about those children who are living in E. Europe, but the Sunday Telegraph's report has some interesting numbers for the discussion here. The Telegraph says that of those 50,000 UK claimants, 1,800 live in Ireland (presumably they mean the Republic).

What interests me is that the rates in the UK are a lot lower than the rates available here, so why would anyone whose children live in this state claim in the UK? For example, a single child in the UK gets approximately £87 per month (€100) whereas the same child would get €166 if the claim is made here. If you claim for two children in the UK you get £144 (€170) per month. Here the rate is €332. See what I mean?

Those figures lead me to believe that there's a strong possibility that some people are claiming twice: here and in the UK. Otherwise, why would anyone with children living here claim the UK's lower benefit?