Changes to social welfare requirements has resulted in a fall of people on benefits.

Almost 1700 fewer people are on a main benefit than last year.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said the proportion of the working-age population on a main benefit, 9.6 per cent, was the lowest it has been in a March quarter in 20 years.

"At the end of the quarter there were 278,236 people on a main benefit, a decrease of 1655 [0.6 per cent] compared to last year," Tolley said.

Those receiving Sole Parent Support had the largest drop in the last 12 months, falling by 4175. Sole parents with part-time work had increased by 44.4 per cent.

Tolley said this is due to the $790 million Child Hardship Package that came into effect last April. The package set new requirements for sole parents and partners of beneficiaries to look for part-time work of 20 hours a week when their youngest child turns 3, instead of 5.


"Budget 2015 increased the amount of places for work-focused case management meaning we now have nearly 50,000 sole parents receiving extra advice and guidance. It's great to see this targeted support is helping more families into independence."

The number of young people receiving Youth Payment/Young Parent Payment combined increased by 536, or 62.5 per cent, compared to last year because the Youth Service was extended in 2016 to include 19-year-old sole parents, Tolley said.

"We know that supporting parents, particularly when they're young, into work helps break the cycle of welfare dependence, ensures better life outcomes for both them and their children and reduces the long-term cost to the taxpayer."