10 January 2020
Are Aussies a big bunch of dobbers? When it comes to potential welfare fraud, it seems the answer is a resounding yes.
Welfare fraud reports are soaring
- Over the past year, Centrelink have received more than 100,000 tip-offs about potential welfare cheats.
- The tip-offs relate to people allegedly wrongly claiming things like Newstart, Child Support and Medicare payment.
- But while Centrelink have identified these debts, the real issue is about getting the money repaid.
National welfare bill is as high as ever
- Despite the high number of potential fraud cases being reported to Centrelink, they aren’t resulting in a significant reduction in our national welfare expenditure.
- Don’t forget about the Centrelink ‘fake debt’ debacle in which many Aussie welfare payment recipients were falsely accused of having a debt to repay.
- It seems that just like that initiative, tip-offs about welfare cheats are having little impact.
Crunching the numbers
- The Aussie government splashes a huge amount of cash on welfare payments each year.
- In the current financial year, over $180 billion will be issued in welfare benefit payments – that’s 36% of the Australian Government’s total expenditure!
- When you consider what a huge amount of money that is, identifying $40 million in fraudulent payments is just a small drop in the ocean.
How are people rigging the system?
- Many welfare benefit overpayments are accidently incurred.
- But in many cases, welfare payment recipients are lying about their circumstances.
- Some people are dishonestly declaring income, while others are hiding a relationship or lying about their living arrangements to maximise the payments they’re able to claim.
So what are Centrelink doing to reduce welfare benefit payments?
- As well as encouraging Aussies to let them know if they suspect someone of welfare fraud, Centrelink are implementing some trial measures.
- In a bid to flush out potential welfare cheats, the Centrelink cashless debit card has been rolled out in 4 areas – Ceduna, Goldfields region, Bundaberg & Hervey Bay and Kununurra & Wyndham in the East Kimberley region.
- They’re also undertaking controversial drug testing for some welfare recipients in the target areas of Cantebury-Bankstown in New South Wales, Logan in Queensland and Manudrah in Western Australia.
Crackdown culture just isn’t working
- While Aussies might be dobbing in others for welfare fraud more than ever before, it isn’t doing much to reduce the Government’s welfare bill.
- And while Centrelink received almost 110,000 reports of potential welfare fraud, not only is much of this resulting debt unlikely to be repaid, but less than 120 cases were referred for prosecution.
Would you dob in a welfare cheat?
- This begs the question – what can be done about reducing welfare fraud?
- Are Aussies simply finding welfare payments that they’re entitled to claim?
- Or are there too many people receiving welfare benefits dishonestly?