Government chasing welfare debt

Centrelink Source: Centrelink

The federal government is bringing in three measures to help it recover spiralling welfare debt.

The federal government is toughening its pursuit of growing welfare debt.

Legislation introduced to parliament by Social Services Minister Christian Porter on Wednesday allows interest to be charged on debt, ends the six-year limit on when debt can be pursued and allows debtors to be stopped from travelling oversees.

Overall the measures will achieve cash savings of more than $570 million through debt recovery.

Mr Porter said that at the end of June 2015 there were more than one million debts worth $3.04 billion, which had increased by almost 10 per cent over the preceding 18 months.

The new interest charge of about nine per cent would apply to social security, family assistance, child care, paid parental leave and student assistance debt.

However it would only be imposed on those who didn't have an approved repayment plan.

Mr Porter said abolishing the six-year limitation on debt recovery action would bring welfare debt into line with tax debt.

He said 54,200 debts worth $166.81 million have already reached their expiry date.

The foreign travel ban brings social welfare debtors into line with child support debtors.

"The government believes it is not appropriate for an individual to travel overseas when they have the means to fund that travel but have not set up any arrangement to repay their outstanding debt to the Commonwealth," Mr Porter said.

However the travel bans can be lifted in special circumstances.

Source: AAP

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