How to Make Centrelink Income Work for You

One of the many benefits of living in Australia is our country’s welfare system, Centrelink. Although it provides a financial safety net when you’re underemployed or unemployed, living purely on Centrelink income can be tough, but not impossible with careful budgeting. If all else fails in the short term, we do offer loans for those on Centrelink.

Join us as we look at the best tips for making Centrelink income work for you.

How Does Centrelink Income Work?

The amount of Centrelink income you receive can vary depending on your individual situation. This figure is calculated according to a set of conditions set out by the Australian Government.

To apply for Centrelink, you’ll be required to provide the following information:

  • Relationship Status – If you’re in a relationship, this may impact the amount of income you can receive.
  • Living Situation – Are you living with your parents or family members?
  • Personal Income and Assets – If you currently earn over $437 a fortnight, your benefits will start to reduce. Similarly, all investments (such as property, shares or inheritance) need to be declared.
  • Dependents – Having any dependent children will impact your Centrelink income.

Using this information, Centrelink will perform a range of mandatory income and personal asset tests to determine the income you’ll receive. For example, if you’re single with no children, over 18 and live away from your parents, you’re entitled to $462.50 a fortnight.

Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Australian Government has introduced the Coronavirus Supplement. This tops up your regular Centrelink payment with an additional $250 a fortnight (if you meet the necessary conditions). This amount will be paid until the 31st of December 2020.

If you’d like to check your eligibility, visit Services Australia.

Budgeting Tips and Making Your Centrelink Income Last

Once you’ve received your first round of Centrelink income, you’ll be in a perfect position to create a fortnightly budget using the following steps:

  1. List your regular, fixed expenses like rent, food, bills, transportation, health insurance, monthly subscriptions and credit card repayments etc. When creating this list, it’s helpful to write down when each expense is paid so you can best allocate your funds.
  2. Deduct these expenses from your fortnightly Centrelink income.
  3. If there is anything left, save this money for a rainy day, or keep a percentage for discretionary spending on items and services that you want, rather than need.

Stretching Your Payments Out

Creating (and sticking to) a budget is great for making the most of your Centrelink income, but did you know you can stretch these payments out to work in your favour?

  • Apart from rent, your grocery bill is likely the biggest expense in your budget. But there are ways to save money on groceries, such as leaving the kids at home or buying in bulk. If you’re interested in reducing your food bill even more, read our handy tips

Even though they’re fixed expenses, your electricity, water and gas bills will fluctuate depending on usage. Starting with your electricity bill, you can help reduce this by doing things like switching to LED bulbs and air-drying your washing. Check out more ideas for reducing your electricity costs.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that Cigno Loans’ articles do not replace advice from an accountant or financial advisor. All information provided is intended to be used as a guide only, as it does not take into account your personal financial situation or needs. If you require assistance, it is recommended that you consult a licensed financial or tax advisor.


Ordered by the Federal Court of Australia

The Federal Court of Australia has found that Cigno Australia Pty Ltd (Cigno Australia) and BSF Solutions Pty Ltd (BSF Solutions) have breached the law by engaging in unlicensed credit activity and charging prohibited fees.

In the period from July 2022 to 3 October 2023, over 100,000 consumers have been lent a total of $34 million, and charged fees of over $70 million, under the ‘No Upfront Charge Loan Model’ operated by BSF Solutions and Cigno Australia. At no time has either BSF Solutions or Cigno Australia held an Australian Credit Licence.

The Court also found that Mark Swanepoel (director of Cigno Australia) and Brenton James Harrison (director of BSF Solutions) were involved in these breaches of the law.

With effect from 24 May 2024, the Court has granted permanent injunctions preventing Cigno Australia and BSF Solutions from:

  • demanding, receiving or accepting fees or charges, including amounts of loan principal, from consumers in relation to credit provided under the ‘No Upfront Charge Model’; and
  • engaging in further credit activity pursuant to the ‘No Upfront Charge Loan Model’, including by entering into new agreements with consumers, for so long as they do not hold an Australian Credit Licence.

Cigno Australia was ordered by the Court to, by 5th July 2024, send written communications to consumers who between July 2022 and December 2022 entered into agreements with Cigno Australia and BSF Solutions under the ‘No Upfront Charge Loan Model’.

The Court will later determine whether (among other things) Cigno Australia and Mark Swanepoel ought to pay a pecuniary penalty in respect of this conduct, and whether Mark Swanepoel should be restrained from carrying on a business engaging in credit activity.

Cigno Australia, BSF Solutions, Mr Swanepoel and Mr Harrison intend to appeal the decision of the Court and have filed an application for leave to appeal. If the appeal is successful, some or all of the orders of the Federal Court of Australia may be set aside.

Where can you get more information?

Where to go for further support

You can access legal advice in your state at: Free legal advice –

If you are experiencing trouble with debt, or money worries in general, contact:

  • the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or online chat (9:30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday).

If you need someone to talk to, contact:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours) or their crisis support online chat or
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 (24 hours) or their webchat