F1. Prevention and Detection
1 July 2002 – Increased Rent Assistance data matching; piloting the widening of data- matching criteria; automated Youth Allowance record linking
1 January 2003 – Whole-of-Government cash economy compliance; Expansion of Tax File Declaration Forms
1 July 2003 – Customer Account; new nominee arrangements
The Government will put in place new strategies for minimising fraud and the incorrect payment of benefits.
Each year Centrelink will process an additional 100,000 reviews of Rent Assistance payments. The reviews arise when customers submit claims after changing their address.
A pilot will be run to test widening the selection criteria for data-matching. The pilot will look at a redesign of business rules to generate additional selections for review activity and will test the efficiency and effectiveness of the broader targeting regime for ongoing review activity. The pilot will generate 43,000 new reviews.
Building on initial work, there will be a whole-of-Government approach to targeting the cash economy in relation to compliance with the tax and social security systems. The number of specialist investigator teams and activities currently being carried out in conjunction with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will be expanded. Customers employed in high risk cash economies will be targeted.
A campaign will encourage greater lodgement of Tax File Declaration Forms by employers, which will assist in the detection of customers who are currently not declaring earned income.
Changes will make a nominee (a person other than the payment recipient who looks after correspondence and receives payment on behalf of the recipient) more accountable. This will help to manage the risk of financial abuse of customers with payment nominee arrangements. Legislative changes will strengthen the current provisions dealing with nominee arrangements.
Processes for updating information on payment recipients will be improved. A new Customer Account will create a 'web browser style' presentation of customer information to make it easier for Centrelink staff to create or update customer records. Information supplied will update all payments a customer may be receiving. It is anticipated that future development would allow on-line claims and lodgement by customers.
Centrelink will automate the linking of Youth Allowance (YA) customer records with the records of parents and siblings who are pension or other social security recipients. The linking will allow the transfer of relevant information that may affect the YA recipient's entitlement. The change will also ensure that information need only be provided to Centrelink once, in order for the relevant changes to multiple payments to occur.
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F2. Assurance, Research and Development
1 July 2002 and ongoing – Random Sampling
1 January 2003 until 30 June 2006 – Data-matching with The Netherlands
The package of initiatives continues research and development into new avenues of compliance activity. It will expand on the current one-off random samples by introducing a rolling program of random samples of benefit recipients while also considering new international data-matching techniques.
An ongoing program of random samples will provide continuous information on the level of, and reasons for, incorrect payment and the effectiveness of the overall control framework for managing payment accuracy. The random samples will also provide information to evaluate new prevention and deterrence measures.
An international data-matching pilot with The Netherlands will match pension payment recipients' information with a view to identifying people receiving pensions from The Netherlands that have not been declared to Centrelink (and vice versa). It will also identify cases where payment of pensions have occurred to people who are deceased.
Moving to a rolling program of random samples follows the success of the previous one-off random samples detailed in the 1999–00 Budget. The samples are very effective at detecting levels of incorrect payment and identifying emerging areas of risk.
A recent random sample review of the Age Pension during 2001 and the Foreign Pension Amnesty (late 2001) detected incorrect rates of payment for people receiving a payment from a foreign country. In addition, some pensions were being paid to deceased individuals. The pilot with The Netherlands will help determine if further action is required.