Many of the clients who come to UnitingCare Geelong have no accumulated savings or any contingency money in the event of an emergency. We find that there is often a relationship between financial hardship and stressful, chaotic and traumatic events in their lives. These can range from a major personal illness or injury, a close family member experiencing illness or injury, a close family member who had died, the client being sacked or made redundant, made to move house but not through choice, relationship breakdown, spousal violence and assault and of course major financial problems.
The following range of services are offered to the clients who are referred to us:
- applying for a Utility Relief Grant to assist reducing gas/electricity and water bills
- budgeting – making money stretch and using it more wisely
- No Interest Loans (NILS) for purchase of furniture, electrical appliances and beds. Payments are made over 1-2 years.
- Step Up Loans (now discontinued)
- ADDs Up Loans
The areas that make life more difficult for our Centrelink recipients are the pay day and other money lenders who are willing to lend to Centrelink clients. If the clients fall behind with repayments, the interest rates can become very high, into the 20% and higher, so they begin to dig a hole for themselves.
The other area that can become a problem is the rental of essential and sometimes non essential items from rental companies. Again the amount needed to pay each fortnight can become burdensome leaving them with little money for food and essential utility payments.
Yet another area becoming more prevalent this year has been the ability to change your gas and electricity suppliers regularly. Some clients are unable to say who their supplier is. Sometimes they may have accounts owing to two or even three suppliers. Aggressive or slick salespersons knocking on doors offering ever better deals are difficult for some people to resist.
We have a NILS (No Interest Loan Scheme) that is available to our clients. Various clients are repaying a loan for various items including furniture and white goods. See details elsewhere on this website.