Despite tough talk about cracking down on welfare cheats, data has revealed that not one person who failed to meet the ‘required activity’ standard in the last year was financially penalised.
Even the four per cent who were initially hit with a financial penalty for having no reasonable excuse for not meeting the work activity had their suspended payments repaid.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge told an assembled crowd at the Sydney Institute on Monday night that tougher sanctions would be sought for those who could work but simply couldn't be bothered to even look for a job. According to the Minister, 400,000 welfare recipients were perfectly capable to work but didn’t have to meet any work-related criteria. “Sanctions are often imposed far too late to be effective at shaping behaviour, and even when penalties are imposed, they can be waived.
“All it takes to have the suspension waived and to receive full back payment, is for the job seeker to call and agree to undertake some activity such as further training in the future.”
He also questioned why drug and alcohol issues were acceptable excuses for not looking for work and said that leniency was shown too often due to a person’s “personal background”.
“When it comes to critical activity to place people onto a better life path, we too often make excuses for them,” Mr Tudge said.
Although welfare groups are calling on the Newstart Allowance to be increased, Mr Tudge said he would work with Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and Social Services Minister Christian Porter, to design and implement a system that called for higher standards to be met before payments are made.
“Setting low expectations is a sign of disrespect ... we are telling them that they lack the capacity to change their lives,” Mr Tudge said.
The Government is currently undertaking measures to recoup $1.9 billion in outstanding welfare debts, with $2.5 million being repaid in the last two months.
Read more at ABC.net.au
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