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Centrelink's 10% debt recovery fee comes as news to human services minister

22 December 2016
Christopher Knaus

The federal government has been urged to stop unfairly stinging welfare recipients with a 10% “debt recovery fee”, a practice the human services minister, Alan Tudge, said was news to him when asked about it. 

Centrelink is in the midst of a major push to retrieve welfare debts from low-income Australians, using an automated system to detect possible overpayments. 

Roughly 20,000 letters are being sent to welfare recipients a week, telling them a discrepancy had been detected and demanding they justify their receipt of benefits from up to six years ago. 

Those targeted are being threatened with a 10% debt recovery fee if they don’t respond but many have told Guardian Australia that they are not receiving letters, because they have changed address.