A major overhaul of government funding for financial counselling services in NSW will ensure they are provided where they are needed most, NSW Minister for Fair Trading Anthony Roberts has announced.
“We know that over 37,000 people throughout the state accessed Financial Counselling Services funded by Fair Trading in 2011. Clients and their families needed assistance with issues including unmanageable personal debts, housing related debt and unemployment or decreased employment,” he said.
Mr Roberts said that the Government’s new needs based regional model was designed so that areas which have previously been without access to services will now attract funding as money has been allocated according to need.
“Labor seemed to believe that financial counselling services were mainly required in suburbs and regions which covered marginal Labor-held seats,” he said.
“We inherited an extraordinary situation where financial counselling services were not provided in many local government areas including Liverpool, Holroyd, Burwood and Marrickville. Services were also not available in many rural and regional areas including Walgett, Bourke, Dubbo, Queanbeyan and Cobar.”
The Minister said all local government areas in the state had now been aggregated into 24 regions, with one organisation or a consortium of organisations to serve each region.
“Population figures have been weighted using the Australian Bureau of Statistics socio-economic index that takes into account the level of disadvantage in each area,” he said.
“Each region will have a main base for the service, as well as outreach capacity when needed.
“Areas that have previously been without service will now attract funding and money has been allocated according to relative need.”
Mr Roberts said that the imminent introduction of the Carbon Tax on top of existing cost of living pressures may increase demand for financial counselling services.
“We know that many individuals and their families are already under financial pressure” he said. The Carbon Tax is expected to increase costs of goods, services and utilities across the board.
“I am particularly concerned that sustained increases in energy bills and council rates may drive many who have never before needed these services to seek them out.
“To ensure we are ready to help, more than $18 million will be allocated to these services over the next three years.”
For application packages and information on how to apply go to the Fair Trading website or email the Community & Industry Grants team email@example.com
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