Go to top of page

8.9 Money management

The department provides services to help customers in challenging circumstances to manage their money.

It offers:

  • the Financial Information Service (FIS), which gives people information on financial matters
  • Centrepay, which is a free voluntary bill‑paying service for Centrelink customers
  • the Rent Deduction Scheme, under which customers can opt to have public housing payments deducted from their income support payment
  • the Tax Deduction Service, which allows customers with taxable Centrelink income support payments to have their tax withheld from their payments
  • Income Management, which helps certain customers to manage their money and prioritise their spending so they can meet essential household expenses.

Financial Information Service

FIS provides free, independent and confidential information, tools and resources to help customers make informed decisions about their current and future financial needs.

FIS can explain the risk of certain financial product categories, the roles of financial professionals, the benefit of reducing debt and how people can increase overall retirement income.

With this information, people are better able to:

  • undertake their financial matters like investment, salary sacrifice and superannuation with increased confidence
  • understand their own financial affairs and options
  • understand financial planners and how to use their advice
  • use credit sensibly
  • save and plan for the future through investing
  • plan for their retirement
  • understand what happens when a family member moves into aged care.

FIS is available by phone, by appointment and through seminars.

In 2018–19, FIS officers:

  • answered more than 94,700 phone calls
  • conducted more than 59,400 interviews
  • delivered 5,402 hours of outreach services
  • held 2,203 seminars for more than 56,400 participants.


Centrepay is a free voluntary bill‑paying service for Centrelink customers. It helps customers to manage their expenses by giving them the option of making regular deductions directly from their welfare payments to businesses.

Centrepay businesses are charged a fee to recover Centrepay operating costs.

At 30 June 2019:

  • 646,865 customers were using Centrepay
  • 12,068 businesses received a Centrepay deduction.

In 2018–19, 25.8 million deductions were made to the value of $2.62 billion.

Rent Deduction Scheme

The Rent Deduction Scheme gives customers the option of having their public housing payments deducted from their income support payment and sent directly to their state or territory housing authority. The scheme is an easy, free way for customers to pay for their government housing.

At 30 June 2019, 332,496 customers were using the scheme. In 2018–19, 9.35 million rent deductions were made.

Tax Deduction Service

The Tax Deduction Service allows customers who receive taxable Centrelink income support payments to choose to have tax withheld from their payments. The service is an easy and free way for customers to meet their tax obligations.

Income Management

Income Management helps specific groups of people who receive income support to manage their money to meet essential household expenses. The Income Management system operates in specified locations.

Under Income Management, a percentage of a person’s income support, and 100 per cent of lump‑sum payments, is allocated to pay for priority items such as food, housing, clothing, utilities, education and medical care. The remaining percentage of the person’s payment is paid to them in the usual way to be used at their discretion.

Income Management does not change the amount of money a person receives as payment, but it affects the way a person receives the payment.

Money that is income managed cannot be spent on alcohol, tobacco, pornography or gambling.

In 2018–19, Income Management continued to be a stable welfare quarantining program, supporting vulnerable people to meet essential expenses. Customer numbers were constant across identified locations.

Accessing managed income

The department works with people on Income Management to identify how their income support can be used to pay organisations for items they and their families need.

Organisations can be paid in a variety of ways:

  • using the BasicsCard—a reusable, PIN‑protected card that can be used via EFTPOS at approved stores and businesses
  • making a direct deposit into a nominated bank account via scheduled transfer or BPAY
  • having a contractual arrangement through which the department will make a payment to a nominated bank account and send the organisation a deduction report to reconcile payment
  • using a credit card over the phone for urgent and immediate requests for expenses like food and travel.

There are also self service options available to help customers to access their Income Management money and be more self‑sufficient. These include the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app and online services. People can use these services to complete transactions such as transferring funds between their Income Management and BasicsCard account and checking their BasicsCard balance.

At 30 June 2019, 16,620 stores and businesses accepted the BasicsCard.

The department investigates public complaints and conducts random sample reviews to ensure stores and businesses are complying with the terms and conditions.

In 2018–19:

  • 98 per cent of income‑managed customers used the BasicsCard
  • $203.1 million was spent using the BasicsCard.

Data on Income Management

Table 50: Numbers of Income Management customers





Cape York Income Management




Child Protection Income Management




Disengaged Youth




Long Term Welfare Payment Recipient




Supporting People at Risk




Voluntary Income Management




Vulnerable Welfare Payment Recipient




(a) These numbers are point‑in‑time at the dates specified and do not represent recipient movements between measures and on and off Income Management.

Cashless Debit Card

The Cashless Debit Card aims to provide customers with greater financial stability while reducing the social harm resulting from alcohol, drugs and gambling. Currently the Cashless Debit Card operates in four locations in Australia.

Where a customer is using a Cashless Debit Card, up to 80 per cent of their income support payment is paid to their card. The card operates like a normal debit card, except that it cannot be used to buy alcohol, gamble or withdraw cash.

The Cashless Debit Card started as a 12‑month trial in Ceduna, South Australia, on 15 March 2016 and in the East Kimberley region, Western Australia, on 26 April 2016. As a result of the positive outcomes of these trials, the Cashless Debit Card trial was extended until 30 June 2019 in these two locations.

On 26 March 2018, the Cashless Debit Card was expanded to a third trial site in the Goldfields region to customers in receipt of working age income support payments.

In September 2018, legislation passed to allow the expansion of the Cashless Debit Card to a fourth site. On 29 January 2019 the Cashless Debit Card was expanded to the Bundaberg and Hervey Bay region to customers in receipt of Newstart Allowance, Youth Allowance (Job Seeker) and Parenting Payment (Single and Partnered) aged 35 years and under.

The department has a limited service delivery role focused on placing participants on and off the measure based on their eligibility. The card provider (Indue Ltd) provides cards and all associated banking and support services to participants. DSS is responsible for the service delivery and operations of the program.

As at 30 June 2019, 11,300 customers were using the Cashless Debit Card.