An analysis of the use of biometric identification using Australia as a case study
Social spending stays at historically high levels in many OECD countries averaging about 21% of GDP in 2016. While total public social spending covers all financial flows from public bodies for social purposes, total net social spending also considers taxes breaks as well as private spending for social purposes. In the US, the UK and Canada, total net social spending is much higher than public spending for social purposes. The costs of fraud and error in social security systems can be considerable. Given the current fiscal climate, efforts to combat fraud and error are at the forefront of policy agendas in many countries. A common assumption is that the economic recession has led to growth in social welfare fraud. Despite increased media interest, there is limited available data internationally showing actual levels of fraud in social security systems and their wider economic costs to society. Furthermore, there are important knowledge gaps on what works in mitigating against the issues of fraud and error. This paper discusses the solution for Australia of a biometric ID cards for all citizens to be shown and tested as time of receipt of welfare (also to be used for other identification purposes). The time is now ripe to consider such a solution. This also fits into increased demands for domestic and international security and refugee identification.
Key words: welfare costs, welfare fraud, biometric identification.