Financial counselling during COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis is affecting lives everywhere, and here in Tasmania, many in our community are experiencing increased stress and uncertainty as businesses are closed and jobs are lost.

Anglicare makes it easy to get help and explore options when money challenges make life difficult.

Our financial counsellors provide a free, independent and confidential service. They can help you organise your budget, suggest ways to manage your debt, and refer you to other useful services.

Financial counsellors can also advise about consumer credit law, debt enforcement practices, bankruptcy, industry hardship policies and government concessions.

Call the Financial Helpline

Assisting you to deal with debt and organise your finances

Our counsellors can provide information about:

  • Your options for dealing with debt
  • Negotiating with people you owe money to
  • Your rights and responsibilities as a consumer
  • Accessing your superannuation
  • Bankruptcy and its alternatives
  • Referral to legal services if needed
  • Money management and budgeting.

Financial counselling is a free service.

To find out more, please call the Financial Helpline on 1800 007 007.

Service Area

Our counsellors regularly visit the outer suburbs and rural communities in Tasmania and the Tasmanian prisons. Community-based organisations can request education sessions for their members about any finance related issue.

Funding

The Financial Counselling Service is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Visit dss.gov.au for more information. This service is also supported by the Crown through the Department of Communities Tasmania.

Frequently asked questions

Anglicare is committed to providing you with important updates and access to information and assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. This includes the Tasmanian Government Coronavirus Stimulus and Support packages.

  • Centrelink supports

    Currently the government is providing additional financial supports for people who have been affected by COVID-19. This includes:

    • Coronavirus supplement

     

    The $550 coronavirus supplement will be paid out to income support recipients every fortnight raising the maximum base rate to $1115.70 per fortnight until 24 September 2020.

    The payment will then be adjusted to $250 per fortnight until 31 December 2020.

     

    Those eligible for the coronavirus supplement include current recipients of:

    • JobSeeker payments (formerly known as Newstart)
    • Youth Allowance
    • Parenting payments (partnered and single)
    • Farm household allowance
    • Special benefit recipients
    • Full-time students on Youth Allowance, Austudy or ABSTUDY
    • Department of Veterans’ Affairs Education Schemes

     

    The government will also be extending the JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments to employees that have lost their jobs or have been stood down, sole traders, the self-employed, casual workers and contract workers who have been affected by the current downturn.

  • Residential Rent Relief Grant

    What is the Residential Rent Relief Grant?

    The Tasmanian Government has established the COVID-19 Residential Rent Relief Grant as a one-off payment paid directly to landlords (or their agents) who have entered into an approved temporary rent reduction agreement with their tenant to keep tenants securely housed in their principle place of residence.

    Rental relief scheme fact sheet for tenants Rental relief scheme factsheet for landlords

     

    Who is eligible for the Residential Rent Relief Grant?

    Tenants can apply for rent relief through the Rent Relief Scheme from Housing Connect.

    Eligible tenants:

    • Renting or boarding in the private market
    • Paying more than 30% of their income in rent
    • Experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19 (e.g. loss of income)
    • Have less than $5,000 in total savings
    • Have a landlord or agent who has agreed to reduce their rent for a set period

     

    How do I apply for Residential Rent Relief Grant?

    1. Tenants experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 should speak with their landlord or agent to negotiate a rent reduction for a set period.
    2. Together with their landlord or agent, tenants can complete the Residential Rent Relief Grant Application Form.
    3. Once completed, submit the Application Form together with the required supporting documentation to Housing Connect.
    4. Housing Connect will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and contact tenants if they need further information.
    5. Housing Connect will send the assessed application to the Department of Justice who will notify the tenant and landlord of the outcome, within two business days.
    6. Once approved, the reduced rental amount will apply for the agreed period and the rent relief grant payment will be made directly to the landlord or agent’s bank account.

     

    The Tasmanian Government has now introduced two new support schemes.

    • COVID-19 Rent Relief Extra Support Scheme, this is for Tasmanian tenants who have already received assistance but need to apply for additional assistance
    • COVID-19 Landlord Support Scheme, this is for Tasmanian landlords who are experiencing financial hardship due to tenants being behind in paying their rent

    You can find fact sheets and the application forms below:

    Residential rental relief extra support fact sheet Residential rental relief extra support application form Landlord support fund fact sheet Landlord support fund application form

     

    If you have any questions or cannot email the form and supporting documentation through, please contact 1800 800 588 for information and alternative application options.

  • Australian Energy Council

    Are you, or someone you know, worried about upcoming electricity or gas bills? Your energy retailer can help.

    There’s help available even if you have not missed a bill payment:

    • Working from home? Your energy retailer can help you lower your energy usage and lower your bills.
    • Has COVID-19 affected your ability to pay your energy bills? You can spread your payments out to help.
    • Worried about upcoming bills? You and your retailer can set up a payment plan that works for you.
    • Getting JobSeeker? You’re eligible for concessions on your energy bills that can save you money. Contact your retailer to ensure you don’t miss out.

    Talk to your retailer about discounts and government support.

    Find out more here

     

    The Tasmanian Government has worked with Aurora Energy to develop a customer support program.

    They have agreed:

    • Utility prices will be frozen for 12 months for businesses and households
    • A 100% waiver for all small business customers on their next bill after April 1st 2020.

    If you are experiencing difficulty paying your bill, or are likely to, you can contact:

     

    Aurora Energy
    www.auroraenergy.com.au
    1300 102 010
    For more support, contact the Aurora Your Energy Support (YES) program.

  • Housing

    The Tasmanian Government has extended the COVID-19 emergency period for residential tenancies to 1 December 2020. This means some protections initially put in place for residential tenants during the pandemic, and due to expire on 30 September 2020 have been extended to 1 December 2020.

    There will be a suspension of evictions for tenants relating to rent in arrears. There is an immediate halt to termination by notice to vacate including any notices issued before the emergency period began having no effect if the tenant hasn’t yet vacated.

    • Any notice to vacate issued by an owner to a tenant is of no effect until 1 December 2020.
    • This applies to a notice to vacate which has been issued to a tenant, where the tenant is yet to vacate.
    • Tenants need to continue to pay rent during this period. If a tenant is unable to pay their rent, they should talk to their property owner about a rent reduction.
    • You can look at reducing your rent during this period if you are affected by COVID-19 through a mutual agreement. Please discuss this with your landlord.

     

    Changes to termination by notice to vacate

    From 1 July 2020 the following exceptions are:

    • the tenant agrees to vacate
    • a notice to vacate has been served for a non-fixed term lease because the property is to be sold, have major renovations or to allow the owner or a close family member to move in
    • a notice to vacate has been served due to the tenant using the property for an unlawful purpose
    • a court terminates the lease
    • the lease has been terminated for severe hardship by the Residential Tenancy Commissioner.

    Notices to vacate can still be issued before 1 December 2020 (previously 30 September 2020) but will have no effect until after this date.

     

    Immediate halt to any increases in rent

    Any rent increase that was due to take place between 23 April 2020 and 1 December 2020 (previously 30 September 2020) will not take effect until 2 December 2020.

    This includes any rent increase where notice was given prior to 23 April 2020, if that rent increase is yet to take place.

     

    Breaking a lease due to severe hardship

    Tenants or owners can apply to break a fixed term lease if its continuation would cause severe hardship to the tenant.

    Sever hardship may include:

    • family tragedy
    • financial misfortune
    • serious illness
    • impacts of natural disasters and other serious or difficult circumstances.

     

    A household is considered to be impacted by severe COVID-19 related hardship if one or more members of a household paying rent:

    • have lost their job/income or their hours/income have been reduced due to a business closing down or standing down staff during the COVID-19 emergency
    • have stopped working or reduced work hours due to COVID-19 illness or now have carer responsibilities for the household or family members and
    • the above factors have resulted in a 25% or more reduction in household income – this includes any government assistance.

    Further information can be found on the Consumer, Building and Occupational Services website.

  • Payday loans (Beware)

    Stop the debt trap

    Tasmania is experiencing the fastest growth of payday loans in the nation. But with a quarter of Tasmanians living in poverty, we are the people who can least afford them.

    Through a payday loan you can borrow up to $2000. This might seem like a quick fix if you’re short of cash but these loans can be a debt trap.

    Did you know that some companies such as Nimble and Wallet Wizard charge as much as 47% interest on these loans? The average interest charged on a credit card is 15%.

    You can read more about the harm associated with payday loans here.

  • No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS)

    No interest, No fees or charges, No credit checks, No worries

    NILS is a No Interest Loan Scheme which provides people on low incomes with access to safe, fair and affordable credit.

    The loan capital is provided interest-free by NAB and the State Government.

    A NILS loan may be provided for amounts from $300 up to $1,500 for the purchase of items such as:

    • Household essentials like fridges, washers and furniture
    • Education essentials like computers, textbooks and school uniforms
    • Medical and dental essentials like mobility equipment and dentures
    • Car care essentials like registration, tyres and repairs
    • Family violence support including removal costs and security equipment

    Find more information about the No Interest Loan Scheme here.

  • Banking

    You can contact your bank if you are experiencing difficulty to see what options they have available for your circumstances.

    Banks are offering many supports at the moment to assist people including:

    • 3 to 6 month payment deferrals
    • Debt consolidation
    • Waivers of fees and charges
    • Interest free periods
    • Overdraft and credit flexibility

    If you are unable to resolve your situation, a Financial Counsellor may be able to assist you with options and advocate on your behalf with the bank.

  • Small business

    The Federal Government has announced a JobKeeper payment of $1,500 per fortnight per employee until 28 September 2020. This is a before tax payment. This subsidy will start on 30 March 2020 with the first payments for eligible people to be in the first week of May.

    The payment will then be adjusted to $1200 per fortnight per employee until 3 January 2021 and further reduced to $1000 per fortnight per employee until 28 March 2021.

    The State Government has announced:

    • $20 million in interest free loans to businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million
    • Payroll tax waived for hospitality, tourism and seafood industry for the last four months of 2019-20. Other businesses can apply with payrolls up to $5 million for April to 28 March 2021.
    • Small business grants program for apprenticeships and traineeships of $5,000 to people that hire an apprentice in tourism, hospitality, building and construction, and manufacturing industries.

    For more information visit the Business Tasmania website or call 1800 440 0269.

    To register for JobKeeper updates from the ATO, click here.

    JobKeeper fact sheet
  • For more information

    For more information about the government stimulus package, click the link below or visit the Australian Treasury website.

    You can also download a copy of the Tasmanian Support & Stimulus Package (COVID-19) Factsheet here.

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