Turnbull government to claw back $300m from welfare debtors

Budget 2018: The government is extending its crackdown on welfare debtors by targeting those owing more than $10,000, while also cracking down on those with criminal offence charges.

Those who’ve been ordered to pay fines by the courts will have the funds deducted from their welfare payments until the debt is paid in full.  

In addition, welfare recipients with warrants for indictable criminal offences will have their payments suspended for up to a month until the warrant is no longer active.

Disability support pensioners who are in prison won’t be able to receive income support for 13 weeks instead of the current two years.

From July 1, 2019, the government will also focus on recovering Centrelink debts over $10,000 and force speedier repayments from those no longer on welfare. 

The Department of Human Services will be focusing on ex-welfare recipients with high-value debts who have a capacity to pay.

The government aims to claw back $299.3 million over three years, starting from 2019-20.

Young people at risk of remaining on welfare for long periods will also be targeted under a new $89 million program.

Those at risk of long-term joblessness, aged 15-21, will get help with intensive and tailored pre-employment support.  

Community development program 

The controversial community development program, a work-for-the-dole type program for remote communities, is being reformed.

A new wage subsidy program will support 6000 jobs for those under the program, including helping remote organisations to boost their workforce.

From early 2019, job seekers will also be required to work a maximum of 20 hours a week under the program.

But they’ll also face more demerit points if they don’t comply with rules in the program.

They’ll also have fewer obligations to report their income to Centrelink as part of the program,

Employers can also apply for a two-year wage subsidy of up to $21,000 for employing job seekers under the program – and they’ll get an extra bonus if the job seeker remains in the job after the two-year period. 


Published 8 May 2018 at 7:46pm, updated 8 May 2018 at 11:40pm
By Rashida Yosufzai