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Benefit cheats threatened with jail

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15:17 CEST+02:00
Swedish benefit cheats could face prison under new proposals put forward by the government on Monday.

People who provide false information to the Swedish Social Insurance Adminsitration (Försäkringskassan) or fail to notify the organization when their circumstances change could be fined or face jail sentences of up to a year, if the government's proposals are accepted by Sweden's parliament, the Riksdag.

State agencies, local authorities and the union run unemployment insurance administrations will be legally obliged to report suspected benefit cheats to the police.

The new law, intended to come into force on August 1st, will also apply to benefits and other payments paid out by the Premium Pension Authority, student loan body CSN, the Swedish Migration Board, the local employment boards, local councils or the unemployment insurance administrations.

"We're not talking about people who put a cross in the wrong box or who have misunderstood. We're talking about seriously negligent behaviour," said Social Insurance Minister Cristina Husmark Pehrsson.

"Every year we pay out 520 million kronor in benefits from the welfare system. If one percent of the payouts are the result of fraud, then it's a lot of money," said Husmark Pehrsson.

The aim of the proposal, according to the minister, is to streamline the rules and make them clearer, at the same time as giving a powerful signal about the importance of protecting the welfare system.

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