Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Norway - not suffering welfare cheats lightly

Norway may be the best place in the world to bring up children but they only pay a single parent benefit for 3 years and they don't suffer fraudsters lightly;

Police in Bergen have arrested a dozen parents of small children in recent weeks, charging them with swindling the state welfare system. Most have fraudulently claimed they were single parents, and thus collected extra child welfare payments.

Parents in Norway are given a generous lump-sum payment when they have a child, and then receive child welfare payments of about NOK 1,000 a month (called barnetrygd) every month until the child is 16, regardless of their household income. Single parents get double the amount, and can be eligible for extra aid as well, sometimes amounting to as much as NOK 15,000 a month (USD 2,500).

Newspaper Bergens Tidende (BT) reported this week that police and officials at state welfare agency NAV received so many tips of suspected fraud that they mounted an offensive called Operation Trygd. Plain-clothed police officers kept several apartments under surveillance, watching the comings and goings of their residents.

And loosely related, here's an Australian welfare cheat who is currently in prison, but wants her 'right' to receive IVF treatments recognised by the court;

Kimberley Castles, who is serving three years in a minimum security jail for welfare fraud, has only seven months left before she turns 46 and becomes ineligible for in vitro fertilisation treatment.

But she has been denied access by prison authorities to receive such treatment, due to concerns other prisoners would become jealous and also want such treatment, making visits to the fertility clinic hard for authorities to co-ordinate.

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