Cashless Welfare Card hardly reduces alcohol spending at all

Data released by the government shows that the Indue Cashless Debit Card scheme hardly reduces alcohol spending at all.

The aim of the card is to limit people’s ability to buy alcohol, cigarettes, gambling products or access cash by paying 80 per cent of their Centrelink benefit to the managed Visa debit card.

The card is currently issued to many welfare recipients in Ceduna, South Australia, the Goldfields and East Kimberley in WA, Hervey bay and Bundaberg in Queensland.

Over the last five years, to April 2021, the Cashless Debit Card has reduced spending on alcohol in Ceduna by $220,000, according to data released by the Department of Social Services.

Monash University researcher Luke Greenacre told ABC News that equals about $80 per person per year.

“There’s about 500 people (give or take) on the card and this was over five years,” said Luke Greenacre, “So … that’s about $80 per person, per year,” he said.

$70,000 worth of attempted alcohol purchases using the CDC were blocked at the Point of Sale over the five years, according to the departmental data. That equals about $28 per CDC holder per year.

“That’s more likely accidental use of the card, they have reached for the wrong card in their wallet when they have been trying to buy a six-pack… ” said Luke Greenacre.

Tim Wildash, CEO of Next Payments,* (an ATM network) said people on cashless welfare card programs are at risk of being left without the ability to buy food and essentials if there is a cashless payment outage. 

“Cash is used by many people on low incomes to get good deals, budget effectively and place self-imposed limits on their spending,” said Mr Wildash 

“Also, making people rely on online and card payments means they lose a lot of their privacy and card purchases may be subject to surcharges, which can add to the price of goods and services.” 

*Jason Bryce also works for Next Payments