Research gathered by the advocacy group for industry super funds has suggested that the ATO’s initial data around the numbers of people potentially accessing early super release could be overinflated.
A survey commissioned by Industry Super Australia, which polled 1,100 people in the first two weeks of April, found that while 30 per cent of respondents said they were likely or very likely to take up the government’s early release scheme, 40 per cent of those respondents said they had not yet been financially impacted by COVID-19.
Industry Super said this meant a significant proportion of those who had registered interest in the scheme so far may not actually be able to access it, as eligibility was dependent on the fund member having lost their job or suffering a significant reduction in work hours or business turnover.
Industry Super chief executive Bernie Dean said if too many people who weren’t eligible applied for the scheme, it could prevent those genuinely in need from accessing their money quickly.
“It is important that those that need to access their super can do so quickly, without being caught behind an administrative logjam of ineligible claimants,” Mr Dean said.
“The Australian Tax Office has assured us there is a robust compliance regime in place and those who deliberately flout the rules could face severe penalties.”
But the poll came under fire, with Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Fintech Jane Hume tweeting she was “disappointed to see Industry Super using members’ money to conduct push-polling in a tawdry attempt to undermine confidence” in the measure.
“At a time when the rest of the industry is working together with struggling Australians, it is sad to see the ISA engaging in disingenuous media stunts that reek of self-interest over national interest,” Ms Hume said.
“Many of the funds ISA is paid to represent have been public in their support for these measures and consistent in that support.
“It’s Australian members’ own money and only they can make the decisions that are right for them and their families. Enough, Industry Super. We’re all in this together.”
Those respondents who were interested in taking out money from super said they would take out around $13,500 each on average, according to the survey.
Of those who said they were very likely to apply for the scheme, 46 per cent said they were still in paid work and their hours had not been reduced, while 40 per cent were in households that earned more than $104,000 a year.
However, 29 per cent of those who said they were very likely to apply for the scheme said they thought their job might be impacted at some point.
In a media interview on Tuesday, Ms Hume said more than 975,000 fund members had registered interest in the early access scheme ahead of its opening for applications on Monday.
Off the back of its data, Industry Super called for “random checks on claims to deter inappropriate applications and real-time monitoring of claim volumes”.
“The ATO should also continue issuing clear warnings that anyone flouting eligibility rules could be penalised,” the group said.
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