How does income management work?

Income management does not change the amount of payments a person receives. It just changes the way that they receive part of their payment. People participating in income management receive the balance of their payments in the usual way.

Income management works by ensuring that part of the person’s payment is allocated to pay for priority items such as food, housing, clothing, utilities, education and medical care. Centrelink assists people on income management to identify their expenses and helps them adjust their allocations as required.  

Income management limits expenditure of income support payments on excluded items, including alcohol, tobacco, pornography, gambling goods and activities. There is no restriction on how a person can use the proportion of their payments that are not income managed.

What percentage of a person’s Centrelink payments are income managed?

Under the child protection and Supporting People at Risk measures of income management, 70 per cent of a person’s welfare payments are set aside for necessities such as food, housing, utilities, clothing and medical care. In Cape York, people are income managed at up to 90 per cent.

For people on other measures of income management, 50 per cent of their welfare payments are set aside for basic necessities.

How can people spend their money?

People can spend their income managed funds in the following ways:

  • by allocating money to the BasicsCard, which can be spent at various stores for items such as food, clothing, petrol, health and hygiene products
  • asking Centrelink to make payments from their income management account for regular expenses such as rent and bills, school meals programs and payments to community stores
  • asking Centrelink to make one-off payments to stores
  • if their priority needs have been met, allocate income managed funds to items that are not priority needs (as long as they are not excluded items). This means people can plan ahead to buy larger items such as motor vehicles or whitegoods with their income managed funds.

Income managed funds cannot be used to purchase excluded goods, including alcohol, home brew kits, home brew concentrates, tobacco products, pornographic material and gambling goods and activities.

Is it compulsory?

Many people participating in income management choose to do so voluntarily. People who volunteer participate for a minimum of 13 weeks and may also be eligible for a Voluntary Income Management Incentive Payment of $250 every six months.

For some people – those who have been referred by a child protection worker or the Northern Territory Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Tribunal, or people who have been assessed by a Centrelink social worker as vulnerable – income management is compulsory for up to 12 months or until the child protection worker, Tribunal or Centrelink social worker decides that the person no longer requires income management.

In the Northern Territory, the Parenting/Participation Measure of income management is also compulsory for people who are:

  • aged 15 to 24 and have been receiving one of the following payments for three of the past six months:
    • Youth Allowance
    • Newstart Allowance
    • Special Benefit
    • Parenting Payment Partnered or Parenting Payment Single
  • aged 25 years and older and have been receiving one of the following payments for more than one of the past two years:
    • Youth Allowance
    • Newstart Allowance
    • Special Benefit
    • Parenting Payment Partnered or Parenting Payment Single

People who are income managed under the Participation/Parenting Measure in the Northern Territory  can apply for an exemption from income management.

More information

For more information:

  • go to humanservices.gov.au
  • talk to your local Centrelink Income Management Contact Officer
  • call the Income Management Line (for customers only) on 1800 132 594.
Content Updated: 21 January 2014