Aussies on the dole attempt to blow $400,000 on booze, pokies and smokes as they trial the new cashless welfare card – despite being TOLD they can only get essentials
- Cashless welfare card has blocked $413,000 to be spent on prohibited items
- Data is from the trial in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region from 2019 to 2021
- Cashless debit card operates like a bank card but cannot be used to buy alcohol
A trial of cashless welfare cards has stopped more than $400,000 of taxpayers’ money being spent on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling during a two-year trial.
Welfare recipients who use the card tried to spend $413,000 on prohibited items from the beginning of the trial in January 2019 to January 2021 in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region.
Data obtained by The Courier-Mail found the attempted spending included $12,000 in betting or gaming, $134,000 in bars, $62,000 at bottle shops and $205,000 from cash vendors and wire transfers.
The Cashless debit card trial applies to people aged 35 and under who receive JobSeeker payments, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payments.
Currently it’s being used across regional Australia including Ceduna in South Australia and Goldfields in Western Australia.
Welfare recipients who use the card tried to spend $413,000 on prohibited items from the beginning of the trial in January 2019 to January 2021 in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region
Those in the scheme receive 20 per cent of their welfare payment in their regular bank account and 80 per cent of their welfare payment on the card.
The Cashless Debit Card operates like any other bank card but it cannot be used to buy alcohol, gamble, purchase some gift cards and withdraw cash.
The aim is to stop those on welfare spending the cash on contraband, which has a negative effect on society and poorer communities.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the program had seen a reduction in spending on alcohol and gambling.
‘The government has no issue with people having a beer or putting a punt on from time to time which is why welfare recipients get to keep 20 per cent of their payment in their regular bank account,’ she said.
The attempted spending included $12,000 in betting or gaming, $134,000 in bars, $62,000 at bottle shops and $205,000 from cash vendors and wire transfers (stock image)
‘What we are interested in is reducing the amount of taxpayer funded social security spent on alcohol and gambling products.
‘When consumed in large quantities, it can cause significant social harm for individuals, their families and communities and reduce job readiness.’
There are about 6,000 people aged 35 and under using the cashless debit card in the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region.
From April, another 2,456 people in the area will be added to the program.
Last month a $2.5million government report into the cashless debit card was inconclusive on whether it reduces harm from alcohol, drugs and gambling.
Commissioned in 2018, the University of Adelaide’s report looked at whether alcohol and drug use, violence and gambling reduced during trials of the card in Ceduna, East Kimberley and the Goldfields but found no conclusive evidence.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the program had seen a reduction in spending on alcohol and gambling (stock image)