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Increase in parents caught cheating child sickness scheme

Published måndag 2 januari kl 10.23
Försäkringskassan: New methods have helped catch cheats
(5:11 min)
Father playing with children.
Parents can be paid up to 80 percent of their salary if caring for a sick child. Credit: Hasse Holmberg/Scanpix

More than 1,000 parents were reported to the police last year for falsely claiming benefits for looking after a sick child.

In Sweden, parents can be paid up to 80 percent of their salary if they need to be off work to take care of a child.

Under the terms of the Care of Child benefit, which is known as VAB (Vård av barn), parents must be absent from their job in order to be eligible to receive compensation.

However, in 2016 a record 1047 people were reported to the police for working at the same time as receiving the VAB money. That compares to 224 in 2014.

Most of those caught will be fined, but if abuse of the system has been systematic some could be imprisoned.

Försäkringskassan, which controls the payment of VAB, recovered SEK 86 million in 2016 from parents who had made false claims, dwarfing the SEK 15 million paid back in 2014.

The increased amounts followed improvements in how the agency detects possible cheating.

Försäkringskassan's Niklas Löfgren told Radio Sweden he hoped the increased possibility of being caught would help act as a deterrent.

"We have one of the world's most generous benefits in this area," he said.

"If you want to keep up a system like that then you have to have a high legitimacy for the system and therefore checks are needed so that people know that when they pay taxes and fees it goes to those who need this benefit and not to people who want to cash out extra money."

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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