Nourish

Securing your finances and future - steps to take and where to go for help.

3f. Financial assistance for living costs

Est. read time: 3 min

Response to COVID-19:  JobSeeker Payment

The new JobSeeker Payment started on 20 March 2020 and is now the main income support payment if you are between 22 and Age Pension age.   To get JobSeeker you have to meet the income and assets tests.

The JobSeeker payment is available to:

  • employees stood down or let go;
  • sole traders, self employed, casual workers and contract workers who’s income has been effected as a result of the economic downturn due to the Coronavirus; and
  • those caring for someone who’s affected by the Coronavirus

Response to COVID-19:  Support for Individuals and Households

  • The Coronavirus Supplement of $250 per fortnight is available to recipients of JobSeeker Payment and other eligible income support payments until 31 December 2020.
  • If you are eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement, this will automatically be paid to you – there is no need to contact Centrelink

Response to COVID-19:  Help with Energy Bills

Some energy retailers have announced the customers who are in their hardship programs will not be disconnected if they are unable to afford their energy bills.  Further information about this plus information about managing energy use can be found here.

Response to COVID-19:  Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payment

The Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package ended on 12 July 2020, and the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) and the Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS) recommenced.   Families will again need to pay the gap fee (child care fee after subsidies).  For families who were getting CCS before 6 April 2020, and who have remained eligible and enrolled, the CCS will start again automatically.  If your circumstances have changed or your family was not previously accessing child care you should contact Centrelink as soon as possible.  More information can be found on the Australian Government Department of Education website.

Response to COVID-19 :  Residential Assistance for Living Costs

You may be eligible for a grant of 4 weeks’ rent, up to a maximum of $2,000 if you have lost your job and are facing financial hardship due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  The grant is available from 1 May 2020 if you have applied to Centrelink for support, have less than $10,000 savings and are still paying at least 25% of your income in rent.  Further information can be found at the Consumer Protection website.

Response to COVID-19 : COVID Hardship Support and Loans without Interest

You may be eligible for household relief loans up to $3,000 for rent, rates, body corporate fees and utility bills – with no interest, charges or fees.  You can also get advice through a free COVID hardship support line.  Further information can be found by calling 1300 121 130 or at the Household relief website.

Utilities

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Contacting your provider

If you're having trouble paying bills the first thing you should do is contact your provider. Most companies have hardship officers who can help you work out a plan to pay your bills in instalments. Some useful sources of information are:

Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme (HUGS)

HUGS provides a one off grant to help Western Australians experiencing financial hardship who are at risk of having their utilities disconnected. The maximum grant per applicant is $581 (or $962 for those living north of the 26th Parallel – approximately Shark Bay on the Western Australian coast). More information can be found at the Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme webpage.

Dependent Child Electricity Rebate

This provides assistance to eligible concession card holders with dependent children to meet electricity costs. The rebate is calculated according to the number of dependent children on your concession card. More information can be found at the Dependent Child Electricity Rebate webpage.

Phones

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Banks

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Further information on how banks can help can be found at 1b. How can your bank or financial advisor help when you are preparing to leave?

Department of Housing rental assistance whilst in a refuge

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If you rent a Department of Housing home and need to stay at Women's Refuge you can put in an application for the “absentee minimum rent” of $10 per week for up to 3 months. Contact the Housing Authority on 1800 093 325.

No and Low Interest Loans

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There are a number of organisations that offer a range of low cost loans and other services including:

  • No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) offers loans without interest up to $1,500 for essentials, goods and services such as white-goods, furniture, and education expenses.
  • StepUP Loans are available for amounts of between $800 and $3,000.  Whilst this loan does charge interest, the rate is lower than many other options, you have three years to pay it back and there are no fees.

NILS and StepUP Loans provide a safe and affordable alternative to high cost finance options such as payday loans or “rent to buy” plans which can promise fast cash but may end up worsening financial difficulties.

To be eligible for NILS you must have a healthcare or pension card, earn under $45,000, have lived in your current residence for 3 months and have a willingness and capacity to repay the loan.  There are no credit checks.

To be eligible for a StepUP loan you need to have a Health Care or Pension Card or qualify for Family Tax Benefit A, and have lived at your current address for three months. As StepUP loans are bank loans, they require a credit check.

NILS and StepUP loans cannot be used for cash, holidays or paying bills like rent.

More information can be found at the Good Shepherd Microfinance website or WA No Interest Loans website.

Other useful links

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