The Government has exceeded its first year target for cracking down on welfare fraud and overpayments with one-third of the financial year still to go.
An estimated $1.9 billion in welfare fraud and overpayments is believed to have been paid out during the last three years of the former Government.
In the 2015-16 Budget, the Government announced a suite of eight measures to crack down on non-compliance and recover this $1.9 billion over a four year period. The Government budgeted to identify $329 million in the first financial year.
The Government reached this target on 9 March, with almost one-third of the year remaining.
The key initiative used income data from the Australian Tax Office and matched it against Centrelink data from the Department of Human Services to identify discrepancies.
Combined with existing compliance activities, the Government’s efforts have seen a 44 per cent increase in money identified over the same period from the previous year.
The money we are identifying for the taxpayer is money that without these integrity initiatives would never be identified.
Australians should be proud we have a strong social security safety net. But we must always remember welfare payments come from taxpayers who have a right to expect these payments go to those who are genuinely in need and there is integrity in the system.
The Government recently introduced further welfare compliance measures into Parliament including imposing an interest charge on debts, removing the six-year limit on debt recovery, and preventing debtors from leaving the country without first clearing their debts.