Financial counsellors from across Australia have today welcomed a new Westpac policy, which will see hardship customers offered the option of building a savings buffer.
Some of Westpac’s customers will be able to reduce their home loan repayments, giving them some financial breathing space.
The bank aims to work with customers experiencing financial hardship to build a savings buffer of at least $100 a month.
“This is really is great news for those customers who are in financial hardship. It will help them cope better with some of life’s emergencies,” said the Chair of the Financial Counselling Association of NSW, Pauline Smith.
“A savings buffer will give Westpac customers experiencing hardship a better chance of paying off some of their debts, without putting them under enormous stress,” said the Chair of Financial Counselling Victoria, Carly Baker.
“This initiative is incredibly important and one that will have a positive impact on people experiencing financial hardship. We hope the other banks will now follow suit,” said Wendy Black, the Chair of the Financial Counselling Association of WA.
“Financial counsellors know that we all experience unexpected expenses from time to time. This new policy means those customers building a savings buffer will be better able to cope,” said Fiona Moore, the Chair of Financial Counselling Tasmania.
“This will give many of Westpac’s customers experiencing hardship peace of mind and will go a long way to helping them cope with unexpected expenses and debt,” said Carolyn Piper, the Chair of the South Australian Financial Counselling Association.
“Westpac has taken the lead on this, and we encourage other banks to adopt similar policies for their customers in financial hardship,” said Vicki Penner, the Chair of Financial Counsellor’s Association of Queensland.
“A small savings buffer can make all the difference to those in financial hardship. This policy makes sense for the bank and its’ customers,” said Nicole Flaws, the President of Financial Counsellors ACT.