Billions wrongly paid out in welfare

Around 20 billion kronor in welfare benefits are wrongly paid out by government agencies every year, according to a new study.

The report, by a committee drawn from various public authorities, says that 10 billion kronor a year is paid out to people who are knowingly cheating the system.

Mistakes by benefit claimants account for 6 billion kronor, with the remaining overpayments due to failures by the public authority issuing the benefits.

The committee also published a survey on attitudes to cheating the system. 95 percent of those asked said it was not right to be a benefit cheat. People were particularly opposed to others who worked on the side while claiming sick benefits. Three out of four of those surveyed thought that benefit cheating was very widespread or quite widespread.

The survey revealed a hint of hypocrisy in some of the answers, with many willing to condemn cheating in others while being able to countenance cheating themselves. One third of those asked said it was not serious to take an extra state-funded sick day, even if you are no longer sick. Three out of ten said they would retain benefits that were paid out by mistake.

“As a rule, people don’t view their own overuse of the system as something criminal, but rather rationalize their behaviour. They view the social security system as a bank where one makes payments and withdrawals for themselves,” the report said.

The three main reasons for cheating the welfare system, according to the report, were that politicians also cheat, that moral standards in society are low and that the risk of detection is small.