Aussies seek digital welfare support

The number of Australians seeking access to welfare support and unclaimed cash through Commonwealth Bank’s digital feature ‘Benefits finder’ more than doubled the month after the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, according to new data released by the bank.

Monthly claims started by customers for federal and state government-offered benefits shot up from 39,000 to 78,000 as Australians searched for easy ways to access their entitlements.

The top claims started through Benefits finder in the CommBank app in the four weeks to 5 April were:

  • unclaimed money (34,000)
  • unclaimed super (7000)
  • power saver bonus (6300)
  • coronavirus and JobSeeker payments (5900)
  • family tax benefit (2800)
  • rent assistance (2700).

Released nationally in September 2019, Benefits finder’s aim is to help connect customers with their share in billions of dollars of unclaimed government rebates and benefits.

Since launch, more than 500,000 claims have been started through Benefits finder with 1.5 million customers visiting it in the app.

Research published by CBA last year estimated that Aussies were missing out on more than $10 billion in unclaimed benefits, rebates and concession payments each year.

Many more Australians are expected to search for available benefits as the economy is buffeted by the coronavirus outbreak, with those receiving JobSeeker payments also likely to be eligible for assistance with rent, utilities, medical and transport costs.

Additional government rebates for customers experiencing financial hardship will also be supported. These include Victoria’s Utility Relief Grant Scheme (up to $1300), federal Crisis Payment (one week’s income), WA’s Hardship Utility Grand Scheme (up to $960), SA’s Emergency Electricity Scheme (up to $400), the ACT’s rates deferment, the NSW Rentstart bond loan, and the ACT’s funeral costs ($500).

Commonwealth Bank spokesperson Angus Sullivan explained that the coronavirus crisis had created significant financial challenges for the community.

“We understand that many families are now making difficult choices to ensure they can meet their immediate needs while minimising the impact on their long-term financial security,” Mr Sullivan said.

“In addition to the support we are providing directly with our own product and service changes, we are determined to help our customers claim as many benefits and rebates as possible to free up money for essential expenses and reduce their financial stress.

“We encourage everyone to see what else they may be eligible for, in some cases customers are missing out on hundreds or even thousands of dollars that could help them through difficult times.

“Tools like Benefits finder aim to simplify an often complex process, making it easier for customers to understand what they may be entitled to and reducing the complexity around submitting a claim,” he said.

There are more than 200 benefits and rebates available on Benefits finder in the CommBank app. To find out more, go to commbank.com.au/digital-banking/benefits-finder.

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Written by Ben

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