CHILD benefit payments to almost 5,000 non-Irish families have been suspended in a major crackdown on welfare fraud.
The Department of Social and Family Affairs stopped the payments after it reviewed its control policy for the scheme, the Irish Independent has learned.
It emerged earlier this year that a new system had been introduced whereby non-Irish EU nationals in receipt of child welfare were required to prove that they were still resident or working in Ireland.
In order to prove that they were still in the country, the department sent letters to the non-Irish EU child benefit recipients. The letters then had to be returned within 21 days with proof that the children were still living in Ireland.
Between November 2007 and April 2008, 27,840 letters were sent out in total. Of that number, 4,960 were not returned with proof of residency or employment and payment was suspended.