The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, urged the Federal Government to call to heel Centrelink which is generating numerous incorrect debt notices and frightening the community with heavy-handed tactics and debt collectors.
This seems to be a common problem for people who've done contract, casual or intermittent work in years they have received Newstart or Youth Allowance.
The government is crowing about its new automated system tracking down money incorrectly paid to welfare recipients, but Crikey is aware of multiple cases of people who have been unfairly and incorrectly targeted under the system.
The government are hoping a new automated system matching welfare recipient's details with information from the Australian Tax Office will aid in the recovery of $4 billion in Centrelink overpayments.
Every day, $4.5 million in Centrelink debt is being identified.
It has led to debt notices worth almost $650 million being issued to customers in the past four months.
A new online system is helping to raise $4.5 million in debt owed to the Commonwealth every day, a huge leap from the $295,000 per day in the past.
The new online compliance system, which became fully operational in July, is now initiating 20,000 compliance interventions a week – a jump from 20,000 a year previously.
Over 3 years it is expected to carry out 1.7 million compliance interventions.
From the article:
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is warning the community to be aware of phone calls from scammers pretending to be from the Department of Human Services or Centrelink.
A new online tool allowing people to repay Centrelink debts in a couple of clicks has recouped almost $2.5 million in welfare debt in less than 2 months.
The Money You Owe tool allows people to view their debt balances, set up repayment arrangements via Direct Debit and make repayments via a credit or debit card using their Centrelink online account.
The government has written off $76 million in welfare overpayments, declaring it would cost more to chase the debt than to waive it.
The Department of Human Services overpaid 1.5 million people a total of $1.5 billion, an average of $1000 each, during 2015-16. It clawed back $920 million by deducting money owed from ongoing social security payments or tax refunds.
This analysis is based on data published by the Department of Human Services. It is as reliable as the department’s estimates. It would be good to see more detailed disclosures by the department about how the estimates are made.
Top Centrelink bosses have hung up on the public, putting their office phone numbers and email addresses under wraps.
The Government is taking steps to ensure people pay back their welfare debts if they have received payments they are not entitled to.
Two Bills are being introduced to Parliament today to strengthen the integrity of Australia’s welfare system.
The government is trying to modernise service delivery via online platforms, with mixed results.
The Australia Institute is an independent public policy think tank based in Canberra. It is funded by donations from philanthropic trusts and individuals, memberships and commissioned research. Since its launch in 1994, the Institute has carried out highly influential research on a broad range of economic, social and environmental issues.
* date released April 2012