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Centrepay helps 500,000 people break the borrowing cycle



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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR KIM CARR Minister for Human Services

Friday, 24 August 2012

CENTREPAY HELPS 500,000 PEOPLE BREAK THE BORROWING CYCLE

More than 500,000 people have avoided debt, late fees and interest thanks to Centrepay, the Australian Government’s bill paying service.

Minister for Human Services Senator Kim Carr said the free service offers people a way of budgeting, and an alternative to payday lenders.

“The Government passed legislation this week to help reduce the financial harm caused by payday lenders on vulnerable consumers. We are also helping people access affordable alternatives,” Senator Kim Carr said.

“I have received letters from payday lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates claiming there are no alternatives for their customers - Centrepay puts that myth to bed.

Senator Kim Carr said Centrepay helps people by deducting regular small amounts from their Centrelink payments, to a nominated bill.

“Centrepay managed $1.76 billion through 21million payments last financial year - helping prevent millions of dollars in fines, late payments and interest repayments.

“Centrepay is free and open to everyone who receives a pension, Newstart or any kind of payment from the Commonwealth.”

In June 2012 the Department made 43,283 Centrepay deductions totalling $1,381,231 to community organisations such as Good Shepherd that provide no interest loans under the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS).

Adam Mooney, CEO of Good Shepherd Microfinance, said half a million deductions for NILS loans had been made through Centrepay.

“Centrepay plays an important role in the Good Shepherd Microfinance model of

community credit. Having Centrepay means clients can pay back their loans quickly and easily,” Mr Mooney said.

“No and low interest loans, responsibly repaid through Centrepay’s free deduction service, make tangible contributions towards the aspirational well-being of low income Australians.”

Centrepay can be used for a wide range of bills including rent, electricity, gas, water, council rates, phone, ambulance and childcare.

“It can also be used to pay for education fees and expenses, home care services, medical expenses, legal fees or court fines,” Senator Kim Carr said.

“Centrepay is voluntary, and people who receive Centrelink payments can start, change or cancel their deductions at any time.”

More than 13,400 organisations are registered for Centrepay and they pay the cost of transactions involved.

Centrepay is an important initiative which supports the Australian Government’s social inclusion agenda.

Customers can commence Centrepay deductions through Centrelink’s online services at www.centrelink.gov.au, by calling the department on their regular payment line number, visiting their nearest office or by speaking to their service provider.

Media contacts: Minister’s Office, 02 6277 7200

Centrepay data for the 2011/12 financial year

Number of

organisations registered for Centrepay

Number of customers using Centrepay

Number of Centrepay transactions

Dollar value of Centrepay transactions

National 13412 524,743 20.86 million $1.76 billion

ACT 107 4982 194,000 $15.2 million

NSW 3546 197,917 7,714,000 $686.3 million

NT 394 8262 249,000 $20.7 million

QLD 3210 105,722 3,936,000 $322.7 million

SA 1537 52,040 2,090,000 $140.6 million

TAS 816 18,492 691,000 $55.5 million

VIC 2538 94,032 4,196,000 $397.0 million

WA 1265 43,296 1,792,000 $121.7 million