Gaming the welfare system to face Budget crackdown

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Measures in next week’s Federal Budget are expected to curb the number of people on Newstart Allowance who turn up only to their final welfare appointments in order to keep their benefits.

A pattern has been identified whereby a number of Newstart recipients failed to turn up for appointments throughout the year, only to make the last one to ensure their Newstart payment continued. An even greater number have been flagged for unusual behaviour, attending appointments at regular intervals to ensure payments continue.

Furthermore, a small number of people were flagged as re-engaging with Centrelink every 56 days to ensure their payment continued and repeating this six times. Although payments were suspended, they were subsequently reinstated and back paid.

In overall percentage, such behaviour accounts for three per cent of the almost 760,000 who receive Newstart Allowance.

Human Services Minster Alan Tudge promised financial retribution for those who were flouting the system. “We need to close these loopholes so that job seekers can’t get around their obligations,” he said.

“We need a system that recognises that some have serious issues in their lives and need assistance. But for those who are gaming the system, we need to introduce stronger, more immediate consequences.”

What do you think? Will there be measures in the federal Budget 2017/18 to stop the ‘gaming of the system’? Or will people simply find other ways to flout the rules?

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Written by Debbie McTaggart



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