Will mooted Centrelink changes affect you?

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With government funds for bushfire relief putting the budget surplus in doubt, and the robo-debt scheme in disarray after being ruled unlawful in the Federal Court, changes to the way welfare recipients report income have been proposed to cut costs.

The anticipated effect is that the government would save $2.1 billion over four years, sources report.

Welfare recipients could soon be required to report their actual fortnightly earnings to Centrelink, rather than providing a calculation based on their wage and hours worked.

A Newstart recipient with no dependents can earn up to $104 a fortnight and receive the full allowance. Income over this amount, up to $1075 a fortnight, reduces the payment by between 50 to 60 cents per dollar earned.

The full pension is paid to an eligible single who earns up to $174 per fortnight. A couple combined can earn up to $308 per fortnight before their pension is reduced.

Draft legislation underpinning the changes will be released for consultation this week and the government hopes to introduce the proposed laws when Parliament resumes next week.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston says income reporting for welfare recipients will no longer be “confusing”.

“We want to make sure that Australians who need financial support are able to get the support that they are eligible for – no less and no more,” she says.

“The current system of calculating earnings can be confusing and lead to misreporting, especially when accounting for overtime or penalty rates.

“These changes will make accurate reporting much easier for people getting a social security payment.”

By simplifying the reporting system, the coalition hopes Centrelink payments will become more accurate and prevent welfare recipients being owed money or having to repay the government for being paid too much.

As part of the proposal, online payroll data will be used so that welfare recipients have their employment and income details pre-filled, as in online tax returns. The pre-filled information can be changed online or on a mobile phone app.

YourLifeChoices’ Retirement Income Review Survey 2019 found that one in five Australians aged 60-plus (19.62 per cent) worked either full or part time.

Do you believe the proposed changes will lead to less confusion?

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Written by Janelle Ward

112 Comments

Total Comments: 112
  1. 0
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    What about getting rid of self funded retirees having to apply for a Low Income Health Card EVERY YEAR

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      That would make too much sense!

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      Yes….they send the renewal a few weeks before, insist that you must complete it by a certain short date then you……wait, and wait and wait..

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      Should be a simple matter attached to tax return… if you fit the bill – you get – if not – you don’t.

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      I’ve always said that all retirees should get a Seniors Card etc… but then, I haven’t gone through every nut and bolt in this idea… just more simple.

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      The Seniors Card is different to the (low income) Health Care Card that Wake Up mentioned.
      My partner and I applied for it nearly 5 months ago, as our income is about the same as if we were pensioners (and has been that low for a few years now) and so we know we are eligible to receive it. We’ve had some health issues, including a couple of surgeries for my husband. It’s embarrassing asking to be bulk-billed, especially for tests and procedures which he hadn’t asked for, but referring doctors just presume he has a HCC because he’s 66. That’s why we applied – it is beyond our income or budget to pay for all this stuff. We rang Centrelink, asking why isn’t it being processed and they said we’ve been put on the non-priority list for processing because we have savings in the bank. Not for much longer!

      That’s a great idea about it being attached to your tax return, TREBOR. It’d save heaps on red tape, reporting this and that, not knowing what box to tick, blah blah blah and all the time and stress wasted, for both staff and recipients.

  2. 0
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    No i don’t , basically because they are incompetent – they don’t understand ‘making something easy’. For a start, allowed earnings need to be substantially increased.

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      Exactly right, if they’re serious about getting older people back to some level of work they need to think about incentives to do so. They’re forever going on about it but all they do is keep taking money off the pensioners. As for Newstart recipients, $105 over their allowance before they’re slugged the 50c in the $!! Real brainwave that one, especially considering around 50% of Newstart recipients are over 50, probably because they’ve been made redundant or are too sick to work full time.

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      Learn from Europe, give the oldies the pension and tax it together with all other income, work and investment. No means test and reporting required apart from your Tax declaration. My sister and her husband are 69 this year and still work, sister got her pension from 64 years of age and her husband from 65. He works 4 days a week and she’s at call (normally 15-20 hours per week). They seem happy and reckon they have the money again this year to come to visit us and look around Australia/New Zealand. That is what I call incentive for older people to keep their interest in work.

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      Agree with mariner. Being SFRs there is a need to bring in universal aged pension and govt doesnt miss out cos rceives more tax plus gets rid of all the useless bureaucratic centrelink asset testing crap !!
      WOW !! A whole $104 a fortnight. “Newstart recipient can earn up to $104 a fortnight before allowance affected” They would still have to search the gutter etc and compete with the wildlife for some tasty morsels.

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      If they’re serious about getting anyone into a job, they need to allow them enough funds to buy some decent clothes… and afford the travel at today’s exorbitant privatised rates… let alone LOOK like they’re well-fed at an interview , and not like some kid on a noodles diet.

      Little Johnny’s parent from Overview Hills send him to an interview in his own car paid for by dad’s company, in his best gear and new shoes and such…. Peter Poverte` gets to show up in a pair of faded jeans, work boots handed down from dad, and on the train….. who gets the job?

      Bringing in a Universal Pension carries with it a duty to pay income tax on all other income – it’s not just another free handout…

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    They should have been doing this forever, report what you actually earn, instead of the 2 weeks period that did not match with what you earnt if you did not have regular shifts etc. casual workers have been the big losers here. Now they can acuratedly report their income. This is now only possible as from last year employers now send the payroll details as soon as they are done to the ATO. not once a year like before. This should reduce the robo debt thing altogether.

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      Agree leek,this new system will or should help those people on casual jobs who had to estimate something that may happen,but in a lot of cases was impossible.Once again the Govt responding to something that was easy to fix yet it took them for ever to use commonsense…..
      o surprise.

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      Agree leek,this new system will or should help those people on casual jobs who had to estimate something that may happen,but in a lot of cases was impossible.Once again the Govt responding to something that was easy to fix yet it took them for ever to use commonsense…..
      o surprise.

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      Probably part of the reason why they brought in Single Touch Payroll .. real time reporting to the ATO.

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    Well, it had to come, didn’t it. Government tax cuts mean a loss of revenue so, as usual, they’ll claw it back from the people who are the least able to afford it. Don’t even think of the ex politicians inhaling their corrupt, taxpayer-funded pensions while earning huge salaries from their various jobs. Don’t let’s cause terror in the government breast by making multinationals pay their fair share of tax.

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      Multinationals DO pay tax just for some reason a lot of people have a go at them. It does not help making them pay more and more and thus getting them to shift somewhere else, taking all the jobs with them. Look at the Aussie companies that went to NZ because they were saving costs. Ireland gave tax holidays to big companies to provide jobs, when proper tax was payable the firms shifted to Poland. One goes to where one is better off. Reg Grundy probably did not shift to Bermuda for the climate alone, the place has no income tax whatever. Our own Norfolk Island was a magnet before it became part of taxable Australia a few years back.

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      Agree with triss

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      True as far as it goes, Mariner – but they also job and income-shift Offshore before they even get to their tax… they all owe billions to their parent company you know – and under company structures these are separate operating entities…

      That’s why we need changes to our company laws… as it is multi-nationals have all the perks to essentially pay nothing…. not a good look or a good result.

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      If you earn the money then it all should count towards what you get in welfare.

    • 0
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      VCBB is back on board, people have been concerned where you went.

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      We were concerned you’d been bushfired out or something…. we need you to keep us on the straight and narrow..

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      It seems crazy that people face very strict restrictions, have to jump through narrow hoops and be of a certain class and character to qualify to work in another country, yet corporations just freely move about wherever they like to avoid tax from profits derived in a different country.

      I believe this is at the source of many of the world’s problems. Corporations have been given the legal status as “entities”, as people have, but corporations are given a whole lot of other benefits that individuals are denied. With ANY benefit should come responsibility. Genuine profits made from a country should be forced to contribute to that country’s infrastructure in the form of tax on the profit, a bit like how a Royalty works – you take something: you give something back.

  5. 0
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    What happens when you work right up to your reporting date but dont get you timesheets untill the next Wednesday.In my case all the work i do is shutdowns and my hours and earnings are never the same and my work involves 3 different companies.

  6. 0
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    These people are utterly incompetent. Anyone who has dealt with these hopeless politicians and their enabler Clink buffoons knows that.

  7. 0
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    My housemate is 65 and is on newstart. Their rent is $200 per month. Cannot get a job anywhere near where we live That leaves almost nothing on living costs. Has to wait a year to get the OAP. If they earn over $174 a fortnight they get taxed 50% on the extra. Why? So that Scomo can past a surplus budget. Ho ho ho.

  8. 0
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    About time. Having to guess your income was fraught with difficulties. Reporting actual income is the way it should always have been.

  9. 0
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    About time. Having to guess your income was fraught with difficulties. Reporting actual income is the way it should always have been.

  10. 0
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    Anne Ruston /Morrison and the whole darn lot are incompetent/ arrogant and heartless and have NO flaming idea what it is like to live in the real world — how long did they deem us / or many to be getting 3.25% when we got nothing near it — and try and write or email OR ring — may as well forget it as these heartless Bs don’t give a hoot.

    So many of these mongrels have a LOT to answer for AND I hope they are ALL held to account!
    Will be interesting to see what happens when paliment goes back next week.

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      They’re in the only job in the world where, if their employer sacks them for misconduct or incompetence, they are paid for life, and their own set of employees then go out of their way to find them another ‘job’… amazing… read all about it in Amazing Stories…. alongside the incredible story of the crocodile that swallowed an airliner and the Aliens hiding within the Pentagon walls…

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