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Cost of JobKeeper scheme is halved from $130billion to $70billion after ATO officials reported a huge error

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Cost of JobKeeper scheme is halved from $130billion to $70billion after ATO officials reported a huge error

The estimated cost of JobKeeper has been revised down by almost half from $130billion to $70billion after ATO officials spotted reporting errors by 1,000 businesses.

The federal government estimated that 6.5 million Australians would be receiving the $1,500-a-fortnight payments based on forms filled out by eligible businesses.

But 1,000 companies incorrectly reported the number of their employees, meaning the figure was far too high.

The number of Australians actually receiving JobKeeper payments is closer to 3.5million, the treasury said today.

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This means the estimated cost of the six-month program is $70billion instead of $130billion.

A joint statement from the treasury and the ATO explained the cause of the problem.

It said: ‘The most common error was that instead of reporting the number of employees they expected to be eligible, businesses reported the amount of assistance they expected to receive.

‘For example, over 500 businesses with one eligible employee reported a figure of 1,500 (which is the amount of JobKeeper payment they would expect to receive for each fortnight for that employee).

‘This reporting error has come to light as the ATO and Treasury have been analyzing the amounts being paid out under the scheme, reconciling these with the estimates provided by enrolled businesses of the likely number of eligible employees.

‘It was not picked up by the ATO earlier as their primary focus in the first fortnight of JobKeeper payments was on ensuring that JobKeeper payments were paid promptly to those eligible for them, and not paid to those who were ineligible.

‘These initial estimates from businesses of employees covered are not linked to payments, and so we’re not as carefully analyzed.’

The statement also said that the number of people in JobKeeper would not reach 6.5 million because lockdowns have not lasted as long as previously thought due to Australia’s success in battling the virus.

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