Welfare cheats pocket billions in undeserved payments

12th January 2018 7:17 AM
Centrelink and Medicare offices at Dalby. Centrelink and Medicare offices at Dalby. Sophie Volker

Welfare scammers and fraudsters have reportedly been paid $2.84 billion in funds they weren't entitled to through fraud or error last year.

Just over 700 people have reportedly been prosecuted as a result but less than half of the money has been repaid.

The Department of Human Services has said it is still pursuing more repayments but it is likely most of the funds will be returned through deductions to ongoing payments.

Families were overpaid the most at $1.2 billion in family tax benefits and more than $700 million in unemployment benefits and rent assistance.

Human Services Minister Michael Keenan told The Daily Telegraph the Turnbull government was "committed to cracking down on welfare fraud more than ever before".

Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said the government is cracking down on welfare fraud. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said the government is cracking down on welfare fraud. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP