New welfare recipients will not be forced onto controversial cashless debit cards.

With Centrelink struggling to handle an influx of Australians applying for benefits, the Federal Government has put a pause the card scheme, which quarantines 80 per cent of Centrelink payments on a card that cannot be used to buy alcohol, tobacco or engage in gambling.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston says the government's priority is to help hundreds of thousands of Australians sacked because of the coronavirus outbreak.

But those already enrolled in the cashless debit card scheme will continue to have their financial freedom curtailed.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert says it is unfair.

“There are so many issues in the trial sites which have gone unaddressed for years now and I fear people in the trial sites will continue to be ignored in the current crisis,” she said.

The program has been accused of doing more harm than good, with independent reports finding people on the cards have problems paying bills, making regular purchases and handling the fees associated with paying by card.