FinCap Pānui September and October 2020

Download a PDF version of the September and October Pānui. 

Message from Susan Kosmala, FinCap’s Board Chair about our new strategy

If you want to find out what beats at the heart of an organisation, a recommended approach is to look at its vision, mission and values. 

And if you want to see how effective it is likely to be, look at its strategies to deliver that mission. 

FinCap was born into a dynamic sector and is determined to make a difference for the better.

So little wonder that – only 39 months into its still-young life – we have now agreed the third set of vision, mission and strategies.

The vision and values are unchanged but there are amendments to the mission and strategic priorities.

 

Vision

People, whānau and communities living free of hardship

Mission

We reduce financial hardship by developing and supporting New Zealand’s free financial capability and budgeting services and advocating for system-level change.

Values

Auahatanga – Innovation

Kotahitanga – Working together

Manaakitanga – Mana enhancing, respectful

Tika/pono – Truth and honesty

 

Strategies

  1. Develop and support free financial capability and budgeting services to deliver high quality, client-focussed outcomes and raise awareness of their value
  2. Build the capability and professionalism of Financial Mentors
  3. Lead and contribute to system-level changes to reduce the causes of financial hardship

 

The new mission and strategies reflect the greater policy and funder focus on financial mentors and financial mentoring, the more hopeful funding situation for those local agencies funded by MSD and the ever-changing world of financial capability.

Now the FinCap staff team are finalising the operational plan to deliver those strategies.  They will be sent to you when completed. 

 

Message from Tim

As I write this the round of 11 regional hui run on Zoom have been completed.  Attendance has been high with 278 attendees across the morning meetings from 118 services

As ever the discussion has been robust.  The concept of a partnership between local agencies and FinCap has been (variously) challenged, defended, enhanced, treated suspiciously…..and warmly welcomed.

I would expect no less of an audience of Financial Mentors, agency managers and Board chairs.

Watch this space as we work out the next stage. Many thanks for your attendance and input.

Here’s a link to the presentations from Tim, Rocky, Soraiya, Clare, Linley and Nige.

 

Regional Hui – Spring 2020

 

The date when that new MSD money will come into the accounts of the 131 MSD-funded agencies (following the necessary contract revision) draws ever nearer. A few Zoom attendees have asked how FinCap fits into that. FinCap plays no role at all in the flow of funds from MSD to services.

To date FinCap has received no ongoing increase in MSD funding; if we do, it will be around the training, workforce and qualification area, and will be targeted to significantly improve the offering to services.

Feel free to get in touch if you would like more information on tim@fincap.org.nz  

 

Introducing Jake Lilley our new Consumer Issues Adviser

Kia ora I’ve just started in the Consumer Issues Adviser role at FinCap and my name is Jake. It’s great to be back in Aotearoa! Previously I worked alongside financial counsellors in Victoria to advocate for reform to combat systemic issues. In particular I was in focused on issues that cause finacial counsellors’ clients to be at risk of energy disconnections. I was over the ditch for seven years after growing up in Palmy and I missed home every single day!

No one should be disconnected where they have an inability to pay! The ‘first cab off the rank’ in this role is pushing that the Electricity Authority work towards making this a reality on the ground in their current process to review the way energy companies go about assisting people. Otherwise I’m keen to start working with you all to work out what the gaps and opportunities are for preventing people facing unfair and unecessary debt or a lack of access to any of the essentials in the first place!

Please do send me an email with your pet peeve right now or in the future – what is the ‘stinkest’ conduct from businesses that is causing hardship and poverty for people in your community!? What are the ‘dead ends’ you keep facing (but shouldn’t!) when trying to help someone overcome poverty? You can reach me at jake@consumeraction.org.au

 

Tumeke!

Jake

 

Power Credits due to expire at the end of October

The use of power credits has been increasing since the Regional Hui. This has been great to see.

However there many services that still have credits to use. Centrix, the credit reporting agency has told us that energy arrears are on the rise. It would be great to see the power credits get to out to clients clearing or avoiding arrears. Even if a client is up to date on their energy bills, they can still receive the credit and have money on their account for them use, and free up spending for other essentials.

The power credits are due to wrap up at the end of October.

If you have any feedback or questions about the credits please contact Jake Lilly, our Consumer Issues Adviser on jake@fincap.org.nz

“This has been a great thing to offer struggling clients – some months it has meant that they eat non-food bank food. All clients have been so very, very appreciative. Process has been simple and straightforward and usually with fast response from the supplier.”

Testimonial from a Financial Mentor

 

 

Access to Centrix Credit Reporting

There has been an enthusiastic uptake of free, real-time access to Centrix credit reports from Financial Mentors. Currently 200 of 670 Registered Financial Mentors have been given access. This represents one third of all Registered Financial Mentors.

Financial Mentors need to sign up to get access to the Centrix system by filling out a User Application form. You can download this form from our resources page on Te Papa Hou under Budgeting and Client Management (www.tepapahou.co.nz/resources). This is a one-off requirement.

FinCap will need to verify if you are a Financial Mentor through our database of Financial Mentors. We will then send your application to Centrix. If you are not registered with FinCap you will need to fill out a Financial Mentor Registration form on our website.

https://www.fincap.org.nz/financial-mentor-registration/ 

Applications for access to credit records needs to be sent to creditreport@fincap.org.nz.

To access a client’s credit record, your client will need to sign our new Privacy Waiver (with a tickbox about credit reporting). This can be downloaded on our Resources page on Te Papa Hou.

 

Software changes by Insolvency Services

On Monday 14th of September the Insolvency and Trustee Service released the fourth iteration of their applications software, OASIS.

With a focus on modernisation and security, OASIS 4 is more intuitive and easier to use once you become accustomed to it. The software streamlines the Debt Repayment Order (DRO) process and is compliant with new privacy legislation. Features include the ability to drag and drop, a personal dashboard for your client’s estate timelines, and a more predictive wizard.

OASIS 4 also included the introduction of a RealMe login, which can be easily created, if you don’t have one, or for existing users; linked to your user information. This type of login also ensures that only the client has access to their estate, and that only the DRO Supervisor that has consented to working with the client will have access to the Order and trust accounting.

For DRO Supervisors, OASIS 4 has limited the consent step to a simple click; as supervisors will receive electronic notification of their order nomination and need only click on the “I will consent” button.

 

Some facts about OASIS

  • The Insolvency and Trustee Service (ITS) defines the OASIS software as “an area of calm in the midst of turbulence”.  Given the COVID world that we are currently living in this seems particularly relevant right now.
  • There is over $200 million held in the Service’s various trust accounts 
  • OASIS manages in excess of $700million of assets for ITS
  • The oldest estate in OASIS is number 200001 dated 5/1/1968.

 

For more in-depth training on the RealMe login process and the dashboard help and support on the Insolvency and Trustee Service website, please click this link – https://bit.ly/30cZdlm.

To access the tutorial videos that have been prepared for financial mentors and DRO Supervisors on the Insolvency Services Google Drive, click this link – https://bit.ly/309xEt2c.

If you are locked off your account, experience difficulties accessing certain features, or have urgent queries, please contact the ITS Service Centre at 0508 INSOLVENCY.

Alternatively, you may contact the ITS Engage Team at engage@insolvency.govt.nz

 

 

Additional funding support for organisations because of COVID-19


MSD – Community Capability and Resilience Fund – $36 Million


The Community Capability and Resilience Fund (CCRF) is a fund available to community groups for initiatives that support the rebuild and recovery from COVID-19. The $36 million fund is available from 1 August 2020 to support communities over the next two years.

The CCRF builds on the success of the Community Awareness and Preparedness Grant Fund (CAP Fund), which was established by the government to provide immediate support to communities during the COVID-19 lockdown. The CCRF allows the success of the CAP Fund to continue on a larger scale.

Like the CAP Fund, the purpose of the CCRF is to provide assistance and support for community groups working with priority populations as they respond, rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

 

The types of things you can apply for funding that may be relevant for our service include:

  • Technology to provide services remotely
  • Help to ensure your community group is operating safely
  • The development and implementation of your COVID-19 recovery plans
  • Opportunities to improve and coordinate the services you deliver
  • Funds to help you collaborate and work with other community groups (eg Community Hubs)
  • Help to cover operational and administrative costs
  • Support for you to develop fundraising campaigns

Find out more on the MSD website by clicking the link here – https://bit.ly/3j9KJKq

 


New Lottery COVID-19 Community Wellbeing Fund – $40 Million


The Right Honourable Tracey Martin has announced the ‘Lottery COVID-19 Community Wellbeing Fund’ of $40 million to focus on Community and Social initiatives. “Community groups responded incredibly to the initial lockdown and continue to play a vital role in supporting the most vulnerable people and communities,” Minister Martin said.

“The Lottery Grants Board wants to help these groups as they provide support, rebuild and strengthen our communities and help with the recovery. The funding will be able to be used to support groups that have lost access to funding sources, have extra demand on their services or are now working in different ways in responding to COVID-19.” 

The Fund will provide one-off grants and is expected to be up and running in the last quarter of the year.

Find out more here – https://bit.ly/3mVq66Y

 

 

Good Shepherd Good Loans

Over the past few months, Good Shepherd have been working on making it easier for potential clients to find out about their loans and to access them.

They have launched a new name that encompasses all their loan products – Good Loans – complete with new logo, web page and supporting material.

NILS, StepUP and DEBTsolve will all still exist, but they will sit under the umbrella of Good Loans.

This means clients on limited incomes, needing a small loan don’t have to work out which product they need before they speak with a Loan Worker.

Visit the new Good Loans website here – www.goodshepherd.org.nz/good-loans/

New brochures will be available from local loan workers in November. Please contact your local loan worker if you would like to have some brochures for your service.

 

 

Ngā Tangatā Microfinance Little Loans

Ngā Tangatā Microfinance is running a campaign to improve awareness of their loan products. They have renamed their suite of loans to “Little Loans”.

Under the Little Loans name is the:

  • “GetControl” Debt Relief Loan where you can borrow up to $3000 to pay off high interest loans
  • “GetAhead” Asset Building Loan to borrow up to $2000 to buy essential items

Find out more about the campaign here:

https://www.ngatangatamicrofinance.org.nz/littleloans/ and look out for the Facebook campaign.

 

 

What is Financial Advice?

The difference between financial mentors/financial mentoring and financial advisers/financial advice is very important for people working in our sector.

This article in the Spinoff from the Financial Markets Authority illustrates what a Financial Adviser is and does and is useful reading for people working as financial mentors. 

Click here for a link to the website – https://bit.ly/2GctmtO

 

Code of Banking Practice translations now available

The Code of Banking Practice is now available in six other commonly used languages the New Zealand Bankers’ Association announced today.

“We wanted to make the Code more widely available, and that includes to people who don’t speak English as their first language. That’s why we’ve translated the Code into Te Reo M­āori, Samoan, Tongan, simplified Chinese, Hindi and Korean,” says New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Roger Beaumont.

“The Code tells you what you can expect from your bank. It sets out five high level commitments that banks make to their customers. We’d like as many people as possible to know about this.”

 

Under the Code banks agree to:

  • Treat customers fairly and reasonably
  • Communicate with customers clearly and effectively
  • Respect customers’ privacy and confidentiality and keep their banking systems secure
  • Act responsibly if they offer or provide customers with credit
  • Deal effectively with customer concerns and complaints

The Code translations are available on the NZBA website here: https://bit.ly/337DJIo

 

University of Otago survey on household energy use during COVID-19 restrictions

University of Otago is conducting new research to explore the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on household energy in New Zealand and we need your help.

You are welcome to participate by completing this survey or sharing it with your clients.

Here is the link to the survey – https://bit.ly/3cDK55f

If you have any questions about this research, please contact Kimberley O’Sullivan on kimberley.osullivan@otago.ac.nz.

 

South Island launch of EnergyMate

On Thursday 17 September the Minister of Energy and Resources launched the EnergyMate programme in the South Island. The programme will be run through Kingdom Resources. 

EnergyMate is Electricity Retailers and New Zealand’s (ERANZ) free in-home energy coaching service for Kiwis at risk of energy hardship. It’s a partnership between electricity retailers, lines companies, the government through Electricity Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), and community organisations including financial capability and budgeting services in Christchurch, Dunedin, Kaitaia, Levin, Lower Hutt, Rotorua, South Auckland, and South Taranaki.

EnergyMate has already helped over 150 families, and this year’s expanded pilot will support 1000 households, visiting whānau in-home and reaching even more through community hui.

During an EnergyMate visit, coaches connect households with their power company to ensure they’re on a plan and payment terms that suit their needs. Coaches also give advice on heating the home cheaply and on using appliances efficiently, check hot water and shower flow, and deliver free LED lightbulbs for instant power savings.

Last year EnergyMate visited over 150 households, and an independent evaluation found it succeeded in helping families become more energy efficient, giving them a better understanding of their power use, their home’s energy performance, and their power bill.

 

Salvation Army State of the Communities Report

The Salvation Army have released their State of Communities Report 2020.

The SOOC 2020 is the third SOOC report to be released by the Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit (SPPU). Previous SOOC reports have been a comparison between communities, however, given the vast differences between these three communities— Rotorua, Johnsonville and Queenstown—SOOC 2020 is an individual analysis of each community. Rotorua has a significant Māori population; Johnsonville is a small and diverse community; Queenstown is a tourism mecca with a large migrant worker population.

The Salvation Army is active and integrated in all these communities, especially during the original lockdowns. SOOC 2020 places particular focus in light of the current pandemic on the impacts of COVID-19 on the local communities and the social issues communities are prioritising with Election 2020 around the corner.

Click here for the link – https://bit.ly/3ja8Bh5

 

Total Money Management report from MSD

We’re continuing the review of Total Money Management (TMM). TMM is where a third party takes over responsibility for managing all or part a person’s money to help them meet their financial obligations, such as debt and bills.

Our TMM review is being carried out in two phases. Phase one was a current state analysis of TMM to understand the various practices and processes nationwide. The aim of this was to find out if TMM could fit within BFC services.

We completed phase one and we are now looking at phase two. To find out what we learned from phase one, please download the summary of findings about the current state of Total Money Management here – https://bit.ly/2HD3loj

Phase two will look at the future of TMM and how it could work within the BFC sector as a BFC tool. If you would like to contribute towards phase two of the review, even if you don’t currently offer TMM, please email the BFC team at Financial_Capability@msd.govt.nz

 

Inquiry into illion’s Arrangement with its related company Credit Simple

The Privacy Commissioner has released their findings into the illion’s relationship with its related company Credit Simple in accordance with the requirements imposed on illion under the Credit Reporting Privacy Code 2004.

The Code applies to the handling of credit information by credit reporters. The Code applies specific rules to credit reporters to ensure the protection of individual privacy.

The Privacy Commissioner has found the Arrangement between illion and its related company Credit Simple circumvents the application of the Code for marketing purposes and the bundling of unrelated authorisations into a statutory right to access.

The Arrangement is therefore, in breach of the Code. The Code was carefully set up to protect vulnerable consumers from marketing and to promote responsible lending. The Arrangement between illion and its related company Credit Simple breaches the Code and risks undermining features of the Code that were created to encourage risk-based pricing and ensure the limited marketing activities permitted by the Code are conducted by credit reporters only.

The full report can be found on the Privacy Commission website here – https://bit.ly/3j9Lgfr

Many financial mentors used Credit Simple to get credit reports for their clients.

We encourage financial mentors to apply for access to free real-time access to credit reports from Centrix instead through FinCap.

 

CFFC report – Money stress causing relationship problems for 1 in 5 New Zealanders

A survey of more than 3000 New Zealanders by the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) found one in five people had relationship problems with partners, family or close friends due to financial concerns.

The 18-34 age group reported the highest degree of relationship strain due to money – 24%. The issue decreased with age with 21% of those aged 35-54 experiencing problems, 14% of those aged 55-65, and only 7% of 65+ saying they still had arguments over finances. 

While those with little or no income (under $10,000 per year) were most likely to experience financially-driven relationship problems (28%), high income did not prevent money conflict – 21% of those earning $150,000-$200,000 reported relationship stress due to money.

Other groups with high rates of interpersonal issues due to financial stress included respondents who had children aged 0-4 years (27%), Māori (27%), Pacific Peoples (28%) and those renting (25%).

The CFFC drew the statistics from its Financial Capability Barometer Survey, run monthly through 2020. The results showed conflict of this nature correlated with a lack of long-term financial planning, a tendancy to spend rather than save, and reluctance to discuss money. 

Download the report on the CFFC website – https://bit.ly/36e6GV8

 

Commerce Commission – Kiwibank admits system failures and agrees to pay customers $5.2 million 

Media release

Issued 24 September 2020
Release no. 36

Kiwibank has entered into a settlement agreement with the Commerce Commission after reporting that it failed to have in place robust home loan variation disclosure policies, procedures and systems. 

In a settlement dated 27 August 2020, Kiwibank admitted that it had failed to act with the care, diligence and skill of a responsible lender and agreed to make remediation payments to over 48,000 borrowers, totalling $5.2 million. 

Commission Chair Anna Rawlings said, “Under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, lenders must act carefully and responsibly in all their dealings with their customers. This includes having appropriate systems and processes in place to manage customer accounts and to support compliance with the lender’s legal obligations to its customers”.

“While Kiwibank had policies in place for disclosing more complex changes, its system and process failures affected the information it provided to some customers when they made simple changes, such as re-fixing interest rates or changing repayment amounts,” said Ms Rawlings.

Kiwibank reported to the Commission in August 2019 that it failed to have in place robust home loan variation disclosure policies, procedures and systems for certain types of home loan variations in the period before April 2019.

Customers eligible for remediation will be contacted by Kiwibank and any enquiries should be directed to the bank.

 

Fair Rent and Digital Exclusion petitions

Fair Rent!

At the Regional Hui many services reported clients having issues with access to housing and unaffordable housing costs. It is safe to say that housing is essential so we are backing this campaign from Renters United! Please consider backing it too!

The cost of renting in Aotearoa cannot continue to run away on us. We need action from current and future Members of Parliament to get rents under control. Sign our open letter to politicians demanding #FairRentNow! http://fairrentnow.nz

Renters make up more than a third of all New Zealanders but successive governments have turned a blind eye as rents have climbed higher and higher, outstripping wage growth. This cannot continue.

Unaffordable rents affect all renters. For aspiring homeowners, it diverts income away from saving for a deposit. For those on low incomes, it forces impossible choices between paying the bills, feeding themselves and their family, and losing their home. With the looming recession caused by Covid-19, renters face even greater hardship.

Here’s what we are asking people to do:

  1. Sign the open letter at http://fairrentnow.nz then share it as far and wide as you can.
  2. Get a photo with your flatmates, team or family with a sign saying “Fair Rent Now! Share to social media, using the hashtag: #FairRentNow and the link http://fairrentnow.nz
  3. Volunteer in the campaign to help us reach our goal of 5,000 signatures to the open letter. Contact info@rentersunited.org.nz to get stuck in!

 

 

Digital Exclusion

COVID 19 is the latest development to shine a light on how digital exclusion is too often a barrier to navigating our way through the world to find a reasonable quality of life.

Citizens Advice Bureau has recently released a deep dive report into these issues called Face to face with digital exclusion. You can join them in calling for politicians to address digital exclusion by signing this petition –  https://bit.ly/2GjOHBt

 

Vacancies

Debt Coach roles at Good Shepherd New Zealand

The Debt Coach is primarily responsible for providing specialist ‘budgeting’ advice and debt advocacy services to clients experiencing financial hardship across New Zealand. This is a telephone-based role. The Debt Coach works across two similar programmes which Good Shepherd NZ is currently delivering.

The Debt Coach assists clients referred by its community-based Loan Workers and a network of Financial Mentors from around the country. The Debt Coach assists clients with unsustainable existing debt, advising and assisting them in developing and implementing debt reduction plans, which may also include a loan to consolidate and/or refinance their existing debt.

The Debt Coach reports to the Service Delivery Manager – Microfinance and works closely with Loan Workers and Financial Mentors across the country, and with the wider Good Shepherd NZ team and microfinance partners.

Based in Good Shepherd NZ’s Central Auckland office alongside other phone-based Debt Coaches, phone-based Loan Workers, and the broader microfinance team, the phone-based debt coaching service currently operates between 8.30am and 6 pm.

This is a full time fixed-term role until 30 June 2022, however more flexible arrangements could be considered for the right individual.

Applications close on Monday 12 October at 9am.

More information about the role is on Seek – https://bit.ly/3kYtGvv

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