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Welfare debt squad hunts for $4bn in over-payments

5 December 2016
Sarah Martin

From the article:

The Australian has learned a new automated system that matches a welfare recipient’s ­details with information from the Australian Taxation Office is generating 20,000 “compliance interventions” a week, up from 20,000 a year before the crackdown came into effect in July.

Debt notices worth almost $650m — much of which was ­incurred through overpayments during the Gillard government ­between 2010 and 2013 — have been issued in the past four months.


The new IT program, one of the world’s largest social welfare software systems, is called Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transportation, or WPIT. It aims to eliminate all welfare fraud and compliance issues once it is linked to information provided to the ATO about a person’s earnings.

Mr Tudge said: “The government is using technology to quickly identify and ­inform people when overpayments occur due to a genuine mistake, and to ensure we detect the small number of people who deliberately try to defraud the system. We have a strong ­social security safety net, but it will only be sustainable if it is targeted and there is integrity in the system.”

Most of the outstanding welfare debt that has not been repaid to the commonwealth is owed by former recipients, because current recipients have money automatically withheld from their fortnightly Centrelink payment until the debt is repaid.