Cashless Welfare Card Has Stopped $400,000 Worth Of Booze And Gambling Purchases
Australia's cashless welfare card has blocked around $400,000 being spent on alcohol, gambling and other contraband during its first two-year trial in Queensland.
The card has sparked controversy amongst campaigners who believe it's unfair and won't fix systemic problems with managing cash.
According to the Courier Mail, the money blocked included $12,000 in betting or casino gaming, $134,000 in bars, taverns and night clubs, $62,000 at bottle shops, as well as $205,000 from cash vendors and wire transfers.
Due to the pandemic, the social services system had struggled under the influx of new welfare recipients, with a hold being put on who can access the card since March last year.
However, following the trial's initial success in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay, it has now been revealed that another 2,400 people are about to be put on the scheme.
Services Australia will reportedly start sending the impacted people letters from April, who will then be given a month before the transition over to the card.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the system was brought about as Australians wanted to know taxpayer funds were being used on the essentials, rather than booze and gambling.
"The pause was put in place in March last year to ensure that Services Australia could focus all of its resources on processing new payment claims at the beginning of the pandemic.
"Now that the number of Australians coming on to social security payments has returned to pre-pandemic levels it is appropriate to lift the pause."
"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.
"What we are interested in is reducing the amount of taxpayer-funded social security spent on alcohol and gambling products because, when consumed in large quantities, it can cause significant social harm for individuals, their families and communities and reduce job readiness."
Meanwhile, a report conducted by the University of Adelaide, and commissioned by the Federal Department of Social Services, looked at how the scheme had affected those in the communities of Ceduna, SA and the East Kimberly and Goldfields in WA, where the card had also been trialled.
According to the ABC, while the report found that there was clear evidence that alcohol use had reduced in those communities since the introduction of card, though they couldn't confirm that it was wholly attributed to the cashless welfare card.
"They can be attributed, however, to the full complement of relevant policies in the trial areas," the report said.
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