Girl with money

Many families are missing out on around $200 a week, a study has found.

Around 113,000 Australians are missing out on the Parenting Payment despite being eligible to receive it, a new study claims.

And while the federal government takes an active approach to matching people up with their lost or unclaimed superannuation, it shows no interest in helping them claim payments they’re entitled to get.

The government is preoccupied with finding people who are receiving assistance to which they do not qualify ... it ignores people who are missing out 

The study’s author, David Baker, acting research director at The Australia Institute, said, “The government is preoccupied with finding people who are receiving assistance to which they do not qualify. Consequently, it ignores people who are missing out.”

It’s difficult to assess the number of eligible Australians who are falling through the social security safety net, but Baker estimates that 113,176 families are missing out on the Parenting Payment, paid to single parents and to parents whose partners had low incomes. The payment would be about $206 a week.

Baker said the program the government uses to identify welfare cheats could be adapted to find the people who were missing out on payments. The program cross-checks income and personal details held by government agencies. He believes there are many more families missing out on payments than those who are prosecuted for fraud.

The Minister for Human Services, Kim Carr, said the data-matching program was designed to protect public revenue, and that using it to locate families missing out on benefits would require “the department to maintain a national database of all Australians, as well as recording and updating their financial, personal and social circumstances”.

But Baker said the Australian Tax Office already holds relevant data that could be matched with Centrelink customers to see which families were missing out.

Senator Carr said information was available at www.humanservices.gov.au about the different types of payments and services available. As well, the department had a network of social workers, indigenous, multicultural and prison liaison officers to support families.