Cigarettes, alcohol, pornography or gambling are banned purchases.
Cigarettes, alcohol, pornography or gambling are banned purchases. Barry Leddicoat

Welfare benefits being traded for grog and cigarettes

WELFARE recipients are spending money quarantined for essentials on banned items and bartering groceries for cash and alcohol, an ABC investigation has found.

Under place-based income management, selected welfare recipients in Playford, South Australia, Shepparton, Victoria, Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland, and Bankstown, New South Wales, have 50 to 70% of their benefits quarantined for essentials.

The scheme is typically administered using the Basics-Card, a card that can only be used at approved retailers.

Cigarettes, alcohol, pornography or gambling are banned purchases.

However, the ABC has learned that people who have been forced on to the BasicsCard are frequently finding ways around regulations, adding weight to suggestions that the scheme is an expensive failure.

Income management was initially introduced to the Northern Territory during the intervention, but it has expanded in recent years, including to the eastern states in 2012 for the place-based trial.


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