Mixed reaction in wake of Centrelink welfare blunder

A NUMBER of Dubbo residents believe all single parents should get a job and not receive government hand-outs, after thousands of parents were incorrectly told to cut up their pensioner concession cards late last year.

Centrelink has admitted incorrectly telling a reported 84,000 single parents to cut up their cards, but have reassured them they can still use their old cards to receive a range of discounts on utility bills, transport, car registration and medicine.

In December, the Department of Human Services wrote to single parenting payment recipients who were moving on to Newstart allowance, advising them to destroy their concession cards from December 31.

They have since identified the error and will send apologies to affected single parents.

The Daily Liberal approached four Dubbo residents who expressed their concerns about single parents receiving "government hand-outs."

"These single parents deserve the right to question why they were asked to destroy their cards, but there are jobs out there for them," resident Janet Mees said.

"They shouldn't have to rely on government hand-outs."

Fellow resident Lyndal Scott said she would be devastated if she were told that her concession cards should be destroyed.

"Single parents without a regular income need a concession card to live," she said.

Alan Horburgh said he heard about the Centrelink blunder earlier this week and said that its decision was clearly not ratified properly.

Wellington man Bruce Clare said that, depending on the circumstances, single parents should look for a job to help support themselves.

"I remember Jenny Macklin (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) saying she could live off $35 a day with Newstart Allowance, and that those on the dole should too. I think it would be hard to live like that," he said.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Human Services said the advice to single parents was wrong, and that parents transferring to Newstart would remain entitled to their concession cards.

"The letter should have made it clear that this group of single parents had continuing entitlements to the pensioner concession card," she said.

"Unfortunately the advice contained within the letter was inconsistent with the information that was widely communicated by the department in the lead up to the change."

She said the department had spoken with over 98 per cent of letter recipients before sending the letters. The department also shared information about the changes, including the pensioner concession card, on the Human Services website and social media.

"The department is writing to parents this week to apologise for any confusion and to explain their ongoing entitlement. New cards will be mailed to all affected parents by the end of this month," she said.

She said if parents have destroyed or lost their card and have an urgent need to prove their concession status, they should go to their nearest Centrelink office.

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