Monday, 17 April 2017

So the Turnbull Government wants to quarantine your Centrelink income & family assistance payments? Time to read the fine print

A limited compulsory income management scheme was introduced by the Howard Government in 2007.

Its aim was to reduce discretionary disposable income by quarantining 50 per cent of all Australian Government income support and family assistance payments. 

Over time it was expanded to include individuals and/or certain communities in all eight states and territories and the financial vehicle for delivery was the Basics Card.

An est. 20,941 people in the scheme identified as indigenous.

Of the total nation-wide figure 79.93 per cent were persons living in the Northern Territory and only an est. 2,755 (13 per cent) of those Territorians on income management were not classed as indigenous.

In October 2016 Prime Minster Malcolm Bligh Turnbull announced that the Healthy Welfare Card – the latest version of cashless debit card income management being trialled – will probably be introduced for all income support and family assistance recipients across Australia, at this stage with the exception of those on Age and Veterans’ Affairs pensions1.

This version quarantines 80 per cent of fortnightly or other periodic cash transfer payments made to a person receiving income support or family assistance. It also quarantines 100 per cent of any lumpsum payment.

There will be few exemptions available for those who attempt to opt out of the scheme.

Given that there is

significant restriction on how this card can be used2,
inadequate consumer protection for card holders,
poor monthly statement record keeping in comparison with an ordinary bank account,
no monthly interest payable on any balance remaining in a welfare restricted account - unlike an ordinary bank account,
no guarantee that the entire account balance will be fully accessible to a card holder, 
no direct debiting allowed3and
no procedure identified for retrieval/transfer to executor of an account balance on death of a cardholder,

it may be wise to read up on the fine print in advance of full implementation being announced by the Turnbull Government.

Here are the current conditions published by Indue Ltdwhich operates this cashless debit card:

Indue: Debit Card Account Conditions of Use  (PDF 84 pages)


1. According to the DSS Guide to Social Security Law, Trigger Payment (Cashless Debit Card Trial), April 2017:
The trigger payments are:
a payment under the scheme known as ABSTUDY that includes an amount identified as living allowance,
austudy payment,
benefit PP (partnered),
BVA, so long as the recipient has not reached pension age,
carer payment,
disability support pension,
newstart allowance,
PgA (other than non-benefit allowance),
partner allowance,
pension PP (single),
sickness allowance,
special benefit,
widow allowance,
widow B pension,
wife pension,
youth allowance.

2. Welfare Restricted Bank Accounts

3. Existing Centrepay deduction/s appear to be subtracted from a Centrelink fortnightly income support payment before the balance is split between the new welfare restricted bank account (80 per cent) and the original unrestricted bank account (20 percent).

4. Indue has been providing income management services to the federal government since at least 2009. The Department of Human Services awarded an 8.6 million contract to Indue Limited covering 1-Jul-2015 to 30-Jun-2017 for Income Management Card Services and a contract worth $840,000 for the period 1-Jan-2017 to 31-Dec-2017 supplying business administration services in the form of Benefits Cards.


Da Pa said...

We have tracked the crime statistics from publicly available and above reproach source of the South Australian Police for the best part of a year and seen no real improvement. The irrefutable evidence is in statistical information not the anecdotal beating’s of someone who is apparently incapable of reading data sheets if that’s not the case what vested interests are being served. Here is the irrefutable evidence that confirms what fifty percent of trial participants observe when they say that their lives are worse off on the #Rationcard.
It Certainly looks like a breach of #HumanRights say #NoWelfareCard it’s a #TudgeFail
Serious Assaults not resulting in injury up 4%
Common Assault up 3%
Aggravated sexual assault up 2%
Non Aggravated sexual assault up 71 %
Robbery and related offences 125% up
Aggravated Robbery up 150%
Non aggravated robbery up 400%

Serious criminal Trespass up 16%
Serious Criminal Tresspass31% up
Receive or handle proceeds of crime 30 %
Fraud deception & Related offences 45% up
Obtain Benefit by Deception 49% up


Anonymous said...

This Government snd the ALP have forgotten the purpose of welfare and that is as an economic stabliser... that is to keep people in jobs.

Extracted from attached link from Dr Ellis Winningham (who also worked with the Federal Reserve in the US).

People believe that welfare, food stamps and unemployment insurance are programs designed to help the poor and unfortunate. They are not.

That belief is the product of politicians redefining these programs with the intent to create an issue where no issue really exists. In other words, they purposefully mislead the public for political gain – votes. The macroeconomic intent of welfare, food stamps and unemployment insurance is not to help the less fortunate, but rather, to help the entire economy avoid a major collapse in aggregate demand.

Hence, welfare, food stamps and unemployment insurance are automatic stabilizers for the economy and most nations employ automatic stabilizers.

An automatic stabilizer provides a floor through which aggregate demand cannot fall. If we look back to the great depression era, we can understand this point. Should the economy stall or experience a downturn, without an automatic stabilizer there is nothing preventing a large collapse in consumer spending. Spending can go into a free fall and when it does, unemployment can rise dramatically. Welfare, food stamp and unemployment insurance payments provide a means to maintain some level of demand preventing that free fall. Let us consider everyone’s favorite program that they either love to hate or love: food stamps.

When recipients of food stamps spend these dollars on food, those dollars in turn pay labor. Labor in turn goes out and spends their paycheck buying clothing, food, gasoline, toothpaste and a myriad of goods and services. Let us now assume that food stamps do not exist. Without food stamps, grocery stores would experience a severe contraction in spending and so, lay off workers to stop the fall of income.

When those workers are laid off they lose their income and so, stop buying clothing, gasoline, toothpaste and a myriad of goods and services. In turn, clothing stores, gas stations and other businesses experience a severe contraction in spending and so, lay off workers to stop the fall of income.

Like a virus, the spending contraction spreads across the economy, unemployment rises dramatically and a recession or depression occurs. Food stamps obstruct that condition. In conjunction with welfare and unemployment claims, the economy has some stability. Thus, we aren’t subsidizing moochers. Such a ridiculous statement is the product of political nonsense. We are, in fact, preventing those not receiving food stamp, welfare and unemployment assistance from becoming unemployed. In other words, the “moochers” are ensuring that you, the responsible hard worker has a better chance of not ending up in unemployment lines. So, we understand (hopefully) the stabilizer part, but what about the “automatic” part?

When the economy stalls, job creation halts. Some businesses begin to shed jobs at this point. In other words, lay off workers. These workers then apply for food stamp, welfare and unemployment assistance. So, more people are now receiving assistance from these programs. That increase in recipients and resulting payments causes the federal deficit to automatically increase.

So then, we understand the concept of automatic stabilizers and we also understand that it is dangerous to intentionally cut food stamps, welfare and unemployment insurance, especially in a downturn. By cutting these programs in, say, a recession, you will only deepen the recession.