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Schedule 1—Social security amendments

Schedule 1 Social security amendments

Part 1 Main amendments

Social Security (Administration) Act 1999

1  Paragraph 60(2)(aa)

Omit “and 3D”, substitute “, 3D and 3E”.

2  Section 123TC (subparagraph (a)(i) of the definition of net amount )

After “section 61”, insert “, 124QG”.

3  Section 123TC (subparagraph (a)(iii) of the definition of net amount )

After “section”, insert “67E,”.

4  Paragraph 123TH(1)(h)

Repeal the paragraph, substitute:

                     (h)  household utilities;

5  Subsection 124PL(3) (paragraph (a) of the definition of balance of the restricted portion of the restrictable payment )

After “61A”, insert “, 124QG”.

6  Subsection 124PL(3) (paragraph (c) of the definition of balance of the restricted portion of the restrictable payment )

After “section”, insert “67E,”.

7  Section 124PM

Repeal the section, substitute:

124PM   Recipient’s use of funds from restrictable payments

                   A person who receives a restrictable payment may use the restricted portion of the payment, as paid under subsection 124PL(2), to purchase goods or services, other than alcoholic beverages or gambling.

8  After Part 3D

Insert:

Part 3E Automatic deductions of rent or other household payments

Division 1 Introduction

124Q   Simplified outline of this Part

This Part allows a deduction to be made from certain welfare payments payable to a social housing tenant who is liable to pay rent to a social housing lessor in relation to premises.

A social housing lessor may request the Secretary to make a deduction:

       (a)     to satisfy an ongoing or outstanding obligation of the social housing tenant for rent, household utilities or both; or

      (b)     to compensate for loss of, or damage to, property, arising as a result of the tenant’s occupancy of premises let by the lessor.

If a deduction is made, the Secretary must pay the amount deducted to the social housing lessor (which reduces the liability to the lessor accordingly).

124QA   Object of this Part

                   The object of this Part is to provide for automatic deductions from certain welfare payments for rent or household utilities, or loss of or damage to property arising as a result of occupancy of premises, so as to:

                     (a)  reduce homelessness; and

                     (b)  ensure financial effectiveness and sustainability of the social housing system; and

                     (c)  support greater investment in social housing.

124QB   Divertible welfare payment

             (1)  For the purposes of this Part, a divertible welfare payment is a social security payment or a payment under the scheme known as the ABSTUDY scheme that:

                     (a)  is payable (except as an advance) to a particular person; and

                     (b)  is not:

                              (i)  an Australian Victim of Terrorism Overseas Payment; or

                             (ii)  a Disaster Recovery Allowance; or

                            (iii)  a student start-up loan; or

                            (iv)  an ABSTUDY student start-up loan under the Student Assistance Act 1973 ; or

                             (v)  of a kind determined in an instrument under subsection (2).

             (2)  The Minister may, by legislative instrument, determine that one or more kinds of payments are not divertible welfare payments.

124QC   Social housing lessor

             (1)  For the purposes of this Part, a social housing lessor is:

                     (a)  an authority of a State or Territory:

                              (i)  that provides social housing in the State or Territory; and

                             (ii)  that has a written agreement with the Human Services Department relating to the authority’s ability to request deductions under this Part; or

                     (b)  a body:

                              (i)  that provides social housing in a State or Territory, is approved to do so by the State or Territory, and the approval has been notified, in writing, to the Chief Executive Centrelink; and

                             (ii)  that has a written agreement with the Human Services Department relating to the body’s ability to request deductions under this Part;

unless a determination made under subsection (2) applies in relation to the authority or body.

             (2)  The Minister may, by written instrument, determine that a specified authority or body may not be a social housing lessor.

             (3)  A determination made under subsection (2) is not a legislative instrument.

124QD   Social housing tenant

                   For the purposes of this Part, a social housing tenant is a person:

                     (a)  who is 18 or older; and

                     (b)  who pays, or is liable to pay, rent in relation to premises let by a social housing lessor, whether or not the person is named in an agreement (however described) with the lessor for occupancy of the premises.

Note:          For the meaning of rent , see section 13 of the 1991 Act.

124QE   Part binds the Crown

                   This Part binds the Crown in each of its capacities.

Division 2 Deductions from divertible welfare payments

124QF   Social housing lessor may request deduction

             (1)  A social housing lessor may request the Secretary to make a deduction from a divertible welfare payment payable to a social housing tenant if:

                     (a)  both of the following apply:

                              (i)  the tenant has an ongoing or outstanding obligation to pay an amount for rent, household utilities, or both, in relation to the tenant’s occupancy of premises let by the lessor;

                             (ii)  the tenant’s agreement with the lessor for occupancy of the premises, or another written agreement with the lessor, authorises the lessor to make requests under this Part for deductions from divertible welfare payments payable to the tenant; or

                     (b)  the tenant is to pay to the lessor an amount for loss of, or damage to, property, as a result of the tenant’s occupancy of premises let by the lessor so as to comply with an order of a court, or of a tribunal or other body that has the power to make orders, and either:

                              (i)  the period for appealing against the order ends without an appeal being made; or

                             (ii)  if an appeal is made against the order—the appeal is finally determined or otherwise disposed of; or

                     (c)  the tenant agrees, in writing, to pay to the lessor an amount for loss of, or damage to, property, as a result of the tenant’s occupancy of premises let by the lessor.

             (2)  For the purposes of subsection (1), it does not matter whether the obligation arose, or the order was made, before, on or after the commencement of this section.

Content of request

             (3)  The social housing lessor’s request must specify:

                     (a)  the amount to be deducted from the divertible welfare payment payable to the social housing tenant, which must not be more than that required to satisfy:

                              (i)  rent, household utilities or both payable by the tenant; and

                             (ii)  an outstanding payment of rent, household utilities or both payable by the tenant; and

                            (iii)  an order mentioned in paragraph (1)(b); and

                            (iv)  an amount agreed, as mentioned in paragraph (1)(c); and

                     (b)  the date from which deductions are to be made.

Amendment of request

             (4)  The social housing lessor may amend the request to specify a different amount to be deducted from the divertible welfare payment. An amended request must satisfy the requirements of subsection (3).

Way of giving requests and amendments

             (5)  To be effective, the social housing lessor must give the request, and any amendment of the request, to the Secretary in a way approved by the Secretary. The Secretary may approve a way of giving requests and the same or a different way of giving amendments.

124QG   Secretary may make deduction

             (1)  The Secretary may make a deduction, from a divertible welfare payment payable to a social housing tenant, if a request is made by a social housing lessor under section 124QF in relation to the tenant.

When a deduction must not be made

             (2)  However, the Secretary must not make a deduction:

                     (a)  after any of the following events occur:

                              (i)  the request is revoked;

                             (ii)  the Secretary is notified under section 124QI that the tenant ceases to be a social housing tenant in relation to the social housing lessor;

                            (iii)  the Secretary is notified under section 124QI that the lessor of premises for the tenant ceases to be a social housing lessor; or

                     (b)  at any time the tenant is covered by a determination under subsection (3).

             (3)  The Minister may, by legislative instrument, determine that deductions must not be made from divertible welfare payments payable to specified social housing tenants.

Note:          For specification by class, see subsection 13(3) of the Legislation Act 2003 .

Notifying when a deduction is not made

             (4)  If the Secretary does not make a deduction in accordance with a request made by a social housing lessor under section 124QF, the Secretary must give written notice to the lessor of that fact.

Deductions may resume when suspension of payments ends

             (5)  If a divertible welfare payment payable to a social housing tenant is suspended under this Act but such payments subsequently resume, the Secretary may deduct any amounts that would otherwise have been deducted under this Part during the period of suspension from payments paid to the tenant after the suspension ends.

124QH   Amount of deduction

             (1)  The Secretary is to determine the amount of a deduction under section 124QG that is to be made from a particular divertible welfare payment payable to a social housing tenant.

             (2)  The amount of a deduction determined by the Secretary, in relation to a divertible welfare payment payable to a social housing tenant, must not exceed either of the following:

                     (a)  the amount specified in a request made under section 124QF in relation to the tenant;

                     (b)  the amount of the divertible welfare payment remaining after all deductions (if any) specifically required by a law of the Commonwealth (other than this Part) are made.

124QI   Notifications by social housing lessors

Revocation of requests

             (1)  A social housing lessor may revoke a request made under section 124QF by giving notice to the Secretary in a way approved by the Secretary.

Notice of person ceasing to be tenant of social housing lessor

             (2)  If a request is made under section 124QF in relation to a person and the person ceases to be social housing tenant in relation to a social housing lessor, the lessor must notify the Secretary of that fact as soon as practicable after the person so ceases to be a tenant.

Notice of lessor ceasing to be social housing lessor

             (3)  If an authority or body ceases to be a social housing lessor (other than because of subsection 124QC(2)), the authority or body must notify the Secretary of that fact as soon as practicable after so ceasing to be a social housing lessor.

Way of giving notices

             (4)  A notification under subsection (2) or (3) must be given in a way approved by the Secretary.

Division 3 Treatment of amounts deducted

124QJ   Application of Division

                   This Division applies if under Division 2 the Secretary deducts an amount from a divertible welfare payment payable to a social housing tenant.

124QK   Secretary must pay amount to social housing lessor

                   The Secretary must pay the amount to the social housing lessor.

124QL   Deduction reduces liability to social housing lessor

             (1)  If:

                     (a)  the Secretary pays the amount to the social housing lessor; and

                     (b)  the amount, or a part of the amount, relates to a particular liability;

then, the liability is discharged to the extent of the amount or the part of the amount, as the case requires.

             (2)  This section applies to a liability even if the amount of the liability is not yet due and payable.

             (3)  This section does not apply (and is taken never to have applied) to reduce a liability by so much of an amount paid to the social housing lessor as gives rise under Division 4 to a debt due to the Commonwealth by the lessor.

124QM   Social housing tenant taken to be paid amount deducted

             (1)  Subject to section 124QO, the social housing tenant is taken to have been paid the amount deducted, at the time the divertible welfare payment was paid (or would have been paid apart from the deduction).

             (2)  Subsection (1) has effect for the purposes of all laws of the Commonwealth, except any law of the Commonwealth specified in an instrument under subsection (4).

             (3)  To avoid doubt, subsection (1) has effect whether or not the Secretary paid the amount to the social housing lessor.

             (4)  The Minister may, by legislative instrument, make a determination specifying a law of the Commonwealth for the purposes of subsection (2).

Division 4 Overpayments to social housing lessors

124QN   Overpayment—payment to lessor exceeds deduction properly made

             (1)  This section applies if:

                     (a)  the Secretary pays an amount to a social housing lessor purportedly under Division 3 in connection with a deduction the Secretary properly made under Division 2; and

                     (b)  the amount paid to the lessor exceeds the deduction.

             (2)  The excess is a debt due to the Commonwealth by the social housing lessor.

Note:          For debt recovery, see section 124QP.

124QO   Overpayment—payment to lessor and deduction not properly made

             (1)  This section applies if:

                     (a)  under Division 3 the Secretary pays a social housing lessor the amount of a deduction from a divertible welfare payment payable to a social housing tenant; and

                     (b)  the deduction exceeded the amount (which may be a nil amount) determined by the Secretary under section 124QH.

             (2)  The amount the social housing tenant is taken to have been paid under subsection 124QM(1) is reduced by the excess.

Debt

             (3)  The excess is a debt due to the Commonwealth by the social housing lessor.

Note:          For debt recovery, see section 124QP.

Payment to social housing tenant

             (4)  The Secretary must pay the social housing tenant an amount equal to the excess, whether or not the Commonwealth recovers the debt. The amount is taken to be a payment of the divertible welfare payment.

             (5)  However, the Secretary must not pay the social housing tenant an amount under subsection (4) to the extent that the sum of that amount, and of the amount that should have been deducted, would exceed the amount of the divertible welfare payment that was payable to the tenant apart from this Part.

             (6)  Subsection (4) has effect for the purposes of all laws of the Commonwealth, except any law of the Commonwealth specified in an instrument under subsection (7).

             (7)  The Minister may, by legislative instrument, make a determination specifying a law of the Commonwealth for the purposes of subsection (6).

124QP   Debt recovery

Set-off

             (1)  The Secretary may set off an amount payable to a social housing lessor under Division 3 against a debt due to the Commonwealth by the lessor under this Division.

Legal proceedings

             (2)  A debt due to the Commonwealth under this Division is recoverable by the Commonwealth in a court of competent jurisdiction.

Note:          For other action relating to debts, see also Part 5.4 of the 1991 Act.

124QQ   No time limit on debt recovery action

                   For the purposes of this Part, legal proceedings, or any action under a provision of this Part, for the recovery of a debt or overpayment may be commenced or taken at any time.

Division 5 Fees

124QR   Fees

                   The Secretary may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, charge a social housing lessor fees for any of the following:

                     (a)  deducting amounts under Division 2 in accordance with requests made by the lessor;

                     (b)  paying the lessor amounts under Division 3;

                     (c)  services provided to the lessor in relation to the administration of this Part.

9  Section 124Q (heading) (the heading to section 124Q as that section was renumbered by item 7 of Schedule 1 to the Social Security and Veterans’ Entitlements Legislation Amendment (Schooling Requirements) Act 2008 )

Repeal the heading, substitute:

124U   Application of Part to decisions under repealed laws

10  After subsection 127(3)

Insert:

          (3A)  The Secretary may not review a decision to make a determination under subsection 124QC(2) (about whether an authority or body is a social housing lessor).

11  After paragraph 129(4)(d)

Insert:

         (daa)  a decision to make a determination under subsection 124QC(2) (about whether an authority or body is a social housing lessor); or

12  At the end of paragraph 192(db)

Add “or 3E”.

13  After paragraph 195(1)(cc)

Insert:

                   (cd)  to facilitate the administration of Part 3E (automatic deductions of rent or other household payments);

14  At the end of subsection 195(2)

Add:

                  ; (m)  for the purposes of Part 3E (automatic deductions of rent or other household payments), in relation to a social housing lessor—evidence to support a request made by the social housing lessor under section 124QF.

15  Subclause 1(1) of Schedule 1

Insert:

divertible welfare payment has the meaning given by section 124QB.

household utilities includes the following:

                     (a)  electricity;

                     (b)  gas;

                     (c)  water;

                     (d)  sewerage;

                     (e)  garbage collection;

                      (f)  fixed-line telephone.

social housing lessor has the meaning given by section 124QC.

social housing tenant has the meaning given by section 124QD.

Part 2 Consequential amendments

Social Security Act 1991

16  After paragraph 1235(c)

Insert:

                    (ca)  a debt due by a social housing lessor under Division 4 of Part 3E of the Administration Act; or

17  Subsection 1237AB(1)

Omit “or 3D”, substitute “, 3D or 3E”.