Australia Centrelink debt recovery: Government knew of potential problems with automated program

12:06  12 january  2017
12:06  12 january  2017 Source:   ABC News

Minister defends Centrelink over welfare debt compliance system

  Minister defends Centrelink over welfare debt compliance system It is ‘as reasonable a process as you could possibly derive’, says Christian Porter, of controversial automated systemThe system, which began in July, has been the subject of a string of complaints in the past month, as anger grows over its crude use of data-matching to compare income reported to Centrelink with information held by the Australian tax office.

The Government knew Centrelink ’s debt recovery program would incorrectly tell clients they owed money if human oversight was reduced, but continued to do so in a bid to cut costs. Coalition ministers and the Department of Human Services have insisted automated letters are not “ debt letters”, and that welfare recipients have ample opportunity to update their records. But Centrelink clients have told the ABC private debt collectors were contacting them about thousands of outstanding dollars, despite still contesting the debt .

The Government knew Centrelink 's debt recovery program would incorrectly tell clients they owed money if human oversight was reduced, but continued to do so in a bid to cut costs.

What to watch next
  • ‘You Never Lamb Alone’

    ‘You never lamb alone’

    Today Logo
    Today
    7:08
  • Money Minute: Thursday January 12, 2017

    Money Minute: Thursday January 12, 2017

    Today Logo
    Today
    3:07
  • Defending your home

    Defending your home

    Today Logo
    Today
    3:36
  • Keeping cool

    Keeping cool

    Today Logo
    Today
    2:18
  • Trump’s Scandalous First Press Conference since the election

    Trump’s Scandalous First Press Conference since the election

    Today Logo
    Today
    5:08
  • Boogie wonderland

    Boogie wonderland

    Today Logo
    Today
    3:51
  • ‘Don’t be a butthead’

    ‘Don’t be a butthead’

    Today Logo
    Today
    1:36
  • Anthony Bell's lawyer tells Sydney court:

    Anthony Bell's lawyer tells Sydney court: "Anthony doesn't want to see his wife again"

    Seven News Logo
    Seven News
    0:29
  • January 12 - Newsbreak

    January 12 - Newsbreak

    Seven News Logo
    Seven News
    8:23
  • Kate Middleton praises brave mothers in a visit to a mental health family centre

    Kate Middleton praises brave mothers in a visit to a mental health family centre

    Seven News Logo
    Seven News
    0:22
  • Drivers lucky escape when car bursts into flames on the Gold Coast

    Drivers lucky escape when car bursts into flames on the Gold Coast

    Seven News Logo
    Seven News
    0:17
  • Hundreds stranded as Tiger Air cancels all flights between Australia and Bali

    Hundreds stranded as Tiger Air cancels all flights between Australia and Bali

    Seven News Logo
    Seven News
    1:32
  • Rolf Harris second indecent assault trial begins, facing 8 charges

    Rolf Harris second indecent assault trial begins, facing 8 charges

    Seven News Logo
    Seven News
    2:10
  • Donald Trump finishes first press conference since US election

    Donald Trump finishes first press conference since US election

    Seven News Logo
    Seven News
    2:20
  • Pedestrian killed by garbage truck in Adelaide

    Pedestrian killed by garbage truck in Adelaide

    Seven News Logo
    Seven News
    0:23
  • Toddler dies 9 days after being pulled from fish pond

    Toddler dies 9 days after being pulled from fish pond

    Seven News Logo
    Seven News
    0:30
UP NEXT
UP NEXT
The Government knew Centrelink's debt recovery program would incorrectly tell clients they owed money if human oversight was reduced, but continued to do so in a bid to cut costs.

Centrelink staff to receive 'customer aggression' training amid debt recovery backlash

  Centrelink staff to receive 'customer aggression' training amid debt recovery backlash Beleaguered Centrelink staff will soon receive "Advanced Customer Aggression Training" as the government agency continues to face a public backlash over its new controversial debt recovery regime. A total of 170,000 Australians have received debt notices from Centrelink over the past six months as a result of an automated system which crosschecks information from various government agencies.The Department of Human Services, which has responsibility for the welfare agency, has recently sought private contractors to provide "Advanced Customer Aggression Training Services".

The New Daily understands the Labor government knew the data matching software and algorithm it put in place were prone to errors, and so the scheme had human oversight from Centrelink employees. Employees would then contact potentially overpaid welfare recipients by letter asking them to call to discuss the matter further. Bill Shorten says the Coalition’s escalation of his party’s automated debt recovery system has triggered a “summer of hell”.

This Account has been suspended. and the Potential of Inspection and Maintenance Programs in Canada.

Cost-benefit analysis of the Centrelink program — which compares employment data from the Australian Tax Office and Centrelink — foundmore than 860,000 clients had discrepancies in their accounts between 2010 and 2013.

The debt recovery program had human oversight during these years but more than 1 million discrepancies were found, with an average debt value of $1,400 per person.

In response to questions from Labor during Senate Estimates in 2015, the Department of Human Services admitted some welfare recipients had identified more than one discrepancy in their accounts.

In mid-2016, the Government introduced changes to reduce the amount of human oversight and automate the compliance program, after a pilot program confirmed savings could be made.

Centrelink's 'crude' new data-matching system falsely claims people owe large amounts of money

  Centrelink's 'crude' new data-matching system falsely claims people owe large amounts of money Many Australians have allegedly received demands from Centrelink to pay back money, as a result of a new computer system that matched their data to information from other government agencies. define("homepageFinanceIndices", ["c.deferred"], function () { var quotesInArticleFormCode = "PRMQAP"; var config = {}; config.indexdetailsurl = "/en-au/money/indexdetails"; config.stockdetailsurl = "/en-au/money/stockdetails"; config.funddetailsurl = "/en-au/money/funddetails"; config.etfdetailsurl = "/en-au/money/etfdetails"; config.recentquotesurl = "/en-au/money/getrecentquotes"; config.

Calls for an inquiry into Centrelink ’s automated data matching system have increased as wrongly-accused welfare recipients battle mental health issues. Senator Wilkie said he has received more than 100 complaints to his electoral office about problems with the debt recovery process. “The government has terrified countless people, ruined the Christmases of many and even driven some people to contemplate taking their own lives,” he said in a statement.

“The serious problems with this debt recovery program are piling on even more pressure, and feeding more aggression from understandably frustrated customers,” he said. Tull accused the coalition government of causing “real damage” to the department of human services with its refusal to back down from the automated debt letters. The union is recommending that, as short term relief, casual staff at Centrelink be upgraded to permanent roles to accommodate the expected workload.

"Using the newly-developed streamlined intervention approach, the savings now far outweigh the cost of undertaking the activity and far outweigh the cost of the overall measure," the response said.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge said on Wednesday the program would be continue, and rejected claims it was flawed.

"The system is working and we will continue with that system," he said.

  Centrelink debt recovery: Government knew of potential problems with automated program © AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy The Commonwealth Ombudsman launched an independent investigation into the system and Labor has called on the National Audit Office to investigate.

Coalition ministers and the Department of Human Services have insisted automated letters are not "debt letters", and that welfare recipients have ample opportunity to update their records.

But Centrelink clients have told the ABC private debt collectors were contacting them about thousands of outstanding dollars, despite still contesting the debt.

Turnbull's former digital tsar says 'blind faith' in data led to the Centrelink debt debacle

  Turnbull's former digital tsar says 'blind faith' in data led to the Centrelink debt debacle The man the Malcolm Turnbull hired to transform the government's digital capabilities has ripped into the Centrelink data-matching system, saying the reported 20% error rate would have already well and truly sunk a private company. define("homepageFinanceIndices", ["c.deferred"], function () { var quotesInArticleFormCode = "PRMQAP"; var config = {}; config.indexdetailsurl = "/en-au/money/indexdetails"; config.stockdetailsurl = "/en-au/money/stockdetails"; config.funddetailsurl = "/en-au/money/funddetails"; config.etfdetailsurl = "/en-au/money/etfdetails"; config.

Error 404: Page Not Found. New Bankruptcy Law Problem For Katrina Victims.

Centrelink ’s ongoing debt drama is shaping up to remain a troublesome issue as politicians return from holiday and Parliament resumes in February. The welfare provider has been in hot water in recent weeks as tens of thousands of Australians receive automated letters from Centrelink demanding they prove they did not defraud the system. The issue could cause problems for other ministers too. Recovering debts from Centrelink recipients is a major strut in the government ’s plan to prop up the budget.

In some cases, welfare recipients were being told to provide Centrelink with pay slips dating back to 2012.

Mr Tudge rejected reports clients trying to update their details had struggled to contact Centrelink on the phone, instead asking people to be patient if they were required to wait "longer than what they would like to wait".

Labor's human services spokeswoman Linda Burney said Mr Tudge had contradicted Social Services Minister Christian Porter, by claiming the program had recovered $300,000 million since July, rather than identifying it.

"This has serious implications for the Government's continued defence of its embattled robo-debt system," he said.

Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Peter Davidson called on the Government to suspend the automated program until it could be independently reviewed.

"The Government has a duty of care towards people who call on it for support, especially those on low incomes," he said.

"It has breached that duty of care with this debt recovery program, which is why the program must cease in its current form to prevent further harm.

Centrelink drops flawed advice to welfare recipients to keep payslips for six months

  Centrelink drops flawed advice to welfare recipients to keep payslips for six months Website now specifies no time limit for holding on to proof of earnings after government efforts to recover debts up to six years oldThe pressure on the government over problems with its automated debt recovery system continued on Tuesday, as the Greens called for the issue to be referred to a Senate inquiry.

Labor calls on the National Audit Office to look at Centrelink 's controversial debt recovery scheme that has been criticised for mistakenly targeting vulnerable Australians.

Labor has referred Centrelink ’s automated debt recovery failures to the auditor general, while information commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has “been in contact” with the department on the issue. Pressure on the government over its automated welfare debt clawback program continues unabated, fuelled by continued complaints about debts being issued on an unfair, indiscriminate and inaccurate basis to low-income and vulnerable people.

"We are hugely concerned that people are paying back debts that they do not owe because it is too hard to prove that they do not owe it."

St Vincent De Paul has also called for the program to be suspended, claiming it was a "blunt instrument" being used to save money.

Centrelink's main workplace union, the Community and Public Sector Union, has warned staff are overstretched and struggling to deal with public reaction to the program.

"Centrelink is an agency that has been run into the ground," CPSU assistant national secretary, Michael Tull, told Radio National Breakfast on Thursday.

"The Government has cut 5,000 jobs out of the place, that's had a terrible impact on service standards, and now they are trying to get client work done on the cheap."

Mr Tull said the automated notices were a good idea in theory, but had created additional work for public servants who deal with frustrated and confused clients.

"Any promise of a reduced workload has now evaporated," he said.

"Staff are now under more pressure than they were before this automated system was introduced."

The number of unanswered calls at Centrelink increased by 61 per cent to 22 million calls a year in 2015, with bureaucrats saying smartphone dialling apps may be to blame.

The Turnbull government is changing the Centrelink debt letter system, but it's still not backing down .
Centrelink's data-matching process has taken a political hammering in the past fortnight amid claims of inaccuracies in alleged debts calculated as owed by some social security recipients. While the Coalition government has refused to suspend the practice, the human services department has now made some concessions in its procedures. define("homepageFinanceIndices", ["c.deferred"], function () { var quotesInArticleFormCode = "PRMQAP"; var config = {}; config.indexdetailsurl = "/en-au/money/indexdetails"; config.stockdetailsurl = "/en-au/money/stockdetails"; config.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks
This is interesting!