Bill payments via Centrepay by Centrelink deductions

Efficient budgeting and utility bill payments via Centrepay

 
By Christine Hopper

Centrelink income support clients are welcome to use the Centrepay bill payment system.

Types of bills for payment via Centrepay

The major telephone, water and electricity providers accept bill payments via Centrepay.  Public housing and most community housing groups will accept rent payments via Centrepay.  Some community based aged care facilities encourage payment via Centrepay for residential or home care.  You can pay Court fines in instalments via Centrepay.

Ask the organisation that bills you, or Centrelink, if that organisation is registered with Centrelink as a Centrepay participant.

How much to set aside for bill payments via Centrepay

The customer decides how much of each Centrelink income support payment is to be paid via Centrepay each fortnight.  Centrelink transfer this amount via Centrepayto the customer’s  account with their nominated service provider and pay the balance of their income support payment into the customer’s bank account.

Fixed deductions for fixed bill payments via Centrepay

If you receive a Centrelink Age Pension or DSP, then you could have the full amount of your rent deducted from your Pension and credited via Centrepay to your landlord’s account.  When the fixed amount of fortnightly rent is due, the public housing ‘landlord’ claims the agreed amount from Centrepay.

Bill payments via Centrepay

Bill payments via Centrepay

If your rent for community housing is set as the full amount of your Rent Assistance plus 25% of your other income, then you could have Centrelink increase your Centrepay deductions for rent payments each time your Centrelink Pension increases.  Your agreement with your community housing provider would allow for these regular increases without your needing to sign more paperwork each time your Centrelink Pension rate increased.

Budgeting for variable bill payments via Centrepay

Utility bills require some ‘budget’ planning.  Utility and telephone bills are usually monthly not fortnightly like Centrelink pension payments.  If you want to pay the whole of your electricity bill via Centrepay then you need to transfer via Centrepay the equivalent of two weeks electricity charges from each fortnight’s Centrelink payment.

The amount of your utility bill could vary depending on the season.  If your electricity bills are much higher in winter than in summer you could increase your deductions to Centrepay for the cold months and reduce them again in the springtime.

You can choose how much of your Centrelink benefit you want deducted from your Centrelink payment and transferred via Centrepay to your service providers’ accounts.  You may change these amounts at any time.

The minimum payment amount for Centrepay deductions is ten dollars, $10.00, per fortnight.  But your landlord or utility provider might require a higher minimum payment amount for paying its bills via Centrepay.

Fees for bill payments via Centrepay

Centrelink customers are not charged any fees for using Centrepay.  The housing provider, landlord or utility service is charged a fee for collecting their payments via Centrepay.  This fee must not be passed on to the Centrelink client.

Getting started with bill payments via Centrepay

Step 1 Check that the organisation you want to pay is registered with Centrepay
Note the organisation’s Centrepay Reference Number 555 ___
You could contact the organisation that you need to pay, for example your housing provider, or
look at https://www.centrelink.gov.au/wps/portal/clk_common/TPS

Step 2 Download a Centrepay Deduction form from
 http://www.humanservices.gov.au/spw/customer/forms/resources/sa325-1211en.pdf
Complete your form, sign it with real ink and mail to Centrelink at the address on the form.

or call Centrelink, or try Centrelink online services at
http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/centrelink-online-services.

Step 3 Check that your Centrepay confirmation letter matches your request.

Stopping bill payments via Centrepay

You may stop or change your Centrepay deductions and bill payments via Centrepay by calling Centrelink or submitting a new Centrepay deduction form.  If you choose to stop all Centrepay deductions then you would need to pay your bills another way.

Please be aware that if your Centrelink income support benefit is stopped, or suspended, then your bills cannot be paid via Centrepay.  Centrelink can only make deductions from your income support payments.  Thus moving from New Start to full time work could mean changing from paying your rent via Centrepay to paying your housing provider directly.

Your income support benefits might not be enough to cover your Centrepay deductions
if your benefit rate is reduced substantially.  For example, if your Age Pension is reduced from the Single to the Couple rate when your new partner arrived, your new fortnightly Pension might not be enough to cover your Centrepay deductions.

Bill payments via Centrepay help keep your budget on track.

But please be aware that you must keep Centrelink or DVA updated about your Financial and Personal Circumstances.  Failure to update could result in overpayments of benefits. 

Overpayment of benefits means a debt at Centrelink or DVA, which would need to be repaid and then your income support could be reduced or stopped for a period.

Your bills could not be paid via Centrepay if your income support benefit is stopped. Keeping your Centrelink record updated reduces the potential for misunderstandings about bill payments via Centrepay.

If you would like further confidential, independent and professional advice about Centrelink, lifestyle or financial issues please contact Christine Hopper (03) 9808 0338.

Financial Care Services – call (03) 9808 0338
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is of a general nature only and does not constitute “financial advice”. You should obtain your own personal financial advice before investing any money or moving in to any retirement village, lifestyle community or aged care facility. Financial Care Services is licensed to provide financial advice to individual clients based on their personal situations. © 2013 Financial Care Services Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
To make an appointment for professional advice, call Financial Care Services (03) 9808 0338