Over the weekend, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) published its first industry-level data related to benefits paid to members through the government’s COVID-19 temporary early release of superannuation scheme.
Based on data APRA gathered from superannuation trustees in the week ended 26 April, 167 funds received a total of 665,310 applications for the early release and processed 162,879 applications.
As a result, super trustees paid their members $1.3 billion in total, in the first week alone, with the average benefit equalling $8,002.
According to APRA, for applications paid in the first week of the scheme, trustees took an average of 1.6 days to make payments to eligible members after receipt of their applications from the ATO.
Given this was the first week of the early release initiative, trustees had no applications that were more than five business days old.
“This new data collection enables APRA, government and other stakeholders to monitor the take-up of the new scheme, and ensure trustees are processing eligible applications in a timely manner,” APRA deputy chair Helen Rowell said.
“Although this publication only covers the first week of a scheme that will run for several months, the initial data indicates trustees are moving quickly to make payments after receiving determinations from the ATO.”
Under the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993, trustees are legally required to make early release payments to eligible members “as soon as practicable”.
“We expect trustees should generally be able to achieve this within five business days; however, we recognise this may not be practicable in all cases, as trustees conduct fraud checks and fulfil their legal obligation to look out for the best interests of all fund members,” Ms Rowell said.
She noted that APRA is closely monitoring trustee performance in this area and will consider taking “appropriate action” if evidence emerges of funds not releasing benefits to eligible members as soon as practicable.