Media Release: New online payment tool recovers $2.5 million in welfare debts

8 November 2016

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Minister for Human Services

A new online tool allowing people to repay Centrelink debts in a couple of clicks has recouped almost $2.5 million in welfare debt in less than 2 months.

The Money You Owe tool allows people to view their debt balances, set up repayment arrangements via Direct Debit and make repayments via a credit or debit card using their Centrelink online account.

Since its launch in August, more than 6,300 repayments, worth almost $2.5 million have been made, while more than 9,300 people have logged on to set up repayment arrangements.

The majority of welfare debt not being repaid is owed by former recipients, as current recipients have money automatically withheld from their fortnightly Centrelink payment until the debt is repaid in full.

Previously, former recipients could only view their debt balances online and had to contact the department to set up payment arrangements.

However both former and current recipients can use the new online payment tool to quickly and efficiently repay their debts.

Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, said online repayments are one of the most efficient and effective ways for the department to recover Centrelink debts.

"Recovering $2.5 million in just under 2 months is an excellent result, particularly as we've seen a significant increase in repayments made by former recipients," Minister Tudge said.

"The fact that people have embraced the ability to self-manage their debts clearly demonstrates the vast majority of people want to do the right thing.

"Offering a convenient digital channel allows people to beat the queues and set up affordable payment arrangements which gives them control and peace of mind.

"It also reduces calls to the department and frees up skilled staff to focus on identifying and recovering more significant debts or fraudulent activity."

Minister Tudge said the department recovered a total of $1.5 billion in social welfare debts during the 2015/16 financial year.

"The Government is committed to strengthening the integrity of the welfare system and recovering debts by combatting fraud and overpayments.

"The online payment tool is the latest part of the Government's action plan to recover a further $1.9 billion in outstanding welfare debt over the next 4 years."

People with a myGov account can now use Money You Owe by clicking through to their Centrelink online account. Anyone needing assistance or having difficulty repaying a Centrelink debt should contact the department on 136 330.

For more information visit humanservices.gov.au/debts