Welfare recipients on the cashless debit card will be unable to cash out their $750 stimulus payments, according to The Guardian.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s first $17.6 billion stimulus package includes $750 payments for households receiving benefits payments, to be deposited into bank accounts in a bid to mitigate a national economic downturn.
But about 15,000 people currently on the controversial cashless debit card – which prevents recipients from using the money on alcohol, gambling or withdrawing cash – will effectively see their money in quarantine.
“Cashless Debit Card participants will receive the $750 Economic Support Payment as a lump sum payment onto their card, consistent with arrangements for lump sum payments such as Family Tax Benefit lump sum payments,” a Department of Social Services spokesperson told The Guardian.
But the head of Australia’s peak body for the community services sector has lashed back at the decision as restrictive and “beyond belief” during this time of crisis and called for the payments to be made to bank accounts.
“People need maximum flexibility about how they can purchase essential items at this time,” she said.
“We urge the government to pay the stimulus payments into people’s regular bank accounts. They should not be quarantined through cashless debit or income management, especially at a time of crisis.”
The cashless debit card is currently being trialled in regional areas of South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia.
But the card has been criticised for technical glitches that sees the card declined as well as the fact that card-holders won’t be able to use the card at any vendor that doesn’t have eftpos. This locks them out of cash-only activities such as paying rent in shared accommodation or purchasing from market stalls or garage sales where items are available at a lower price.
Mutual obligations: suspended or not?
ACOSS joined the Greens and the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union in calling for jobseekers’ mutual obligations to be suspended over fears that payments may be cut during the Covid-19 crisis.
Mutual obligation requirements oblige job-seekers to complete activities such as having a ‘Job Plan’ and attending regular appointments with their employment service provider in order to continue receiving income payments.
Mutual obligations for all programs need to be suspended from now.— Rachel Siewert (@SenatorSiewert) March 13, 2020
Does the Government really think it’s going to be a good idea for those with mutual obligation requirements to be attending appointments, for #workforthedole and meetings during this time?#Auspol #COVID19
Today I have repeated my calls for the Government to suspend the mutual obligation responsibilities of people on #Centrelink payments, including those on #WorkfortheDole, #CDP and the #ParentsNext program.#Auspol #COVID19— Rachel Siewert (@SenatorSiewert) March 17, 2020
Goldie said the suspension was “essential and urgent” in ensuring people would receive income support while self-isolating.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment announced the reporting requirements would be paused.
3/3 We have currently paused reporting requirements for #jobseekers as we switch over to the new payment. This means you or your provider will not have to report on your mutual obligation until after 20 March 2020.— Employment@Dept of Education, Skills & Employment (@EmploymentGovAU) March 17, 2020
However, there have been reports that the suspension has not actually been implemented yet.
Also, yes, #Centrelink mutual obligations are still in place. Yesterday, I spoke to a woman who was unable to reschedule a #ParentsNext appointment despite she and granddaughter having flu-like symptoms #auspol— Luke Henriques-Gomes (@lukehgomes) March 17, 2020
Yahoo Finance has contacted the Department of Social Services and the Department for Education, Skills and Employment for comment.
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