Like so many of us, Australia’s financial counsellors are happy to see the back of 2020 and are ready to welcome a new year.
We’re also determined to start 2021 with consumer-driven New Year’s resolutions. These are our top five and we invite you to join the party:
1. We vow to continue our “Save Safe Lending” campaign, to ensure consumers are protected from irresponsible lending. The Federal Government plans to axe responsible lending laws in March next year. Don’t let this happen! It will create a #DebtDisaster.
So far more than 19,000 people and 125 organisations have signed an open letter to parliamentarians. Make it your New Year’s resolution.
2. Our push to have Buy Now Pay Later services subject to the same legal framework as other lenders will continue in earnest.
As this market grows in Australia, so does the risk to consumers who use it. At the moment, providers aren’t required to check if customers can afford repayments, leaving them vulnerable to mounting debt if they miss payments.
To get on top of your Buy Now Pay Later debt, you can use this helpful guide from the National Debt Helpline.
3. We want to make it easier for people in financial stress to get assistance from a free, independent and confidential financial counsellor.
Our sector works hard to help people and small businesses get back on track financially. This work will continue in 2021, a year we expect will be very busy as Australia recovers from the COVID-19 induced recession.
If your New Year’s resolution is to get back on track financially, visit ndh.org.au or call 1800 007 007.
4. We remain committed to the campaign to “Raise the rate for good”. When the Federal Government introduced Job Seeker in response to COVID-19, many people had enough money to live on for the first time. We urge the Federal Government to permanently increase this payment (formerly Newstart Allowance).
Make a difference in 2021 and sign up to the campaign.
5. We promise to urge banks, creditors, utility companies and other financial service providers to treat their customers with extra consideration and respect in 2021. So many people have been doing it tough and the new year may bring added financial pressure.
Please ensure your hardship departments are well- staffed and your repayment arrangements are suitable for your customers. They need kindness and deserve dignity.