FinCap pānui – December 2021

Kia ora koutou

It’s been a challenging year with COVID-19 so I’m sure many of you are happy to have the festive season in your sights.

Financial mentors do an amazing job in their communities and I hope you take this time to celebrate what you have achieved the past year and focus on your own wellbeing.

The FinCap office will be closed from Saturday 25 December and we’ll be back on board on Monday 10 January.

Our MoneyTalks team will be taking a break from 8pm Thursday 23 December to 8am Wednesday 5 January.

Even though we’ve been limited with COVID-19 restrictions, we were still able to run our What’s happening on the ground? webinar last month.

It was great to see a variety of stakeholders there and hear the insights from some of our financial mentoring services – we’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who attended.

I want to thank Tui Edwards, of Financial Mentoring Service (Budget Advisory Service Whakatane Inc), and Lisa Dyer, of Nelson Budget Service, for taking this valuable opportunity to share what you’re seeing day-to-day.

If you weren’t able to make the webinar, you can watch the recording on YouTube.

I also want to mention Kane Lyden, of Mid North Budgeting Services Trust, who featured in this Sorted blog recently.

Kane says working with a financial mentor was a turning point in getting on top of a difficult financial situation, in a non-judgemental and practical way.

She has generously shared her story in the hope that it will inspire others to reach out for help.

It’s been a great first year supporting you all and I hope you are able to take a break over the festive season – I’ll be back with my next pānui in February.

Ngā mihi mahana
Ruth

Less stress for ‘Clutha kids with happy feet

It’s a case of the shoe fitting for kids in Balclutha who have been given new school shoes this year to support struggling whānau to make sure they can go to school.

Clutha Budget Advisory Service coordinator Lee-Anne Michelle says they’ve been able to give 54 pairs of shoes to children in need this year through their new initiative Happy Feet.

This started because they saw clients and other people in the community who weren’t always able to send their kids to school as they didn’t have the right shoes or any school shoes at all.

Read more on the FinCap website.

COVID-19 guidance for financial mentors

We’ve had some enquiries recently around guidelines for COVID-19 guidelines.

We want to let you know it’s up to each service to determine how they approach this. Any protocols services put in place will be a service decision and is part of their health and safety legislative obligations. To support you in this, we suggest the following resources:

  • Unite against COVID-19 website
  • Operating safely – what you need to think about
  • How to decide what work requires a vaccinated employee
  • Sign up to MSD’s newsletter Keeping you updated
  • Sign up to the Employment New Zealand newsletter

WorkSafe outlines all you should consider when writing your COVID-19 Safety Plan and templates for planning are included. There’s also guidance on their website on how to decide what work requires a vaccinated employee.

We encourage you to keep connected with other services in your communities to continue supporting each other during this time.

Latest submissions – advocating for change

Submissions are one way we continue to advocate for systems change to support our vision of people, whānau and communities free of hardship.

We recently presented to the Economic Development, Science and Innovation Committee as part of their public hearings to support our submission on the Electricity Industry Amendment Bill.

We’ve strongly supporting the proposed amendments which would lead to a ‘regulatory backstop’ that can ensure the recommendations of the Electricity Price Review will be implemented.

Clear recommendations from a review need to be progressed.

Buy Now Pay Later

We’ve also heard your many concerns around Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) loans falling outside of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act.

Now is your chance to submit what you are seeing to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) through this consultation and your views on what will bring better outcomes in the community.

FinCap will be making a submission recommending BNPL is regulated like any other loan under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act.

If you have a case you and your client would like to bring to our attention we might be able to include this in the submission, please email senior policy advisor Jake Lilley on jake@fincap.org.nz.

The deadline for submissions is 16 December.

Other submissions

  • 14 October: Submission on improving Retail Service Quality (RSQ) Draft Baseline Report
  • 16 November: Submission on Electricity Industry Amendment Bill
  • 25 November: Submission on extending the Electricity Price Review’s final recommendations to the gas market
  • 1 December: Submission on AML/CFT Act Consultation Document

For more information on any of these submissions, get in touch with Jake or keep up-to-date on our FinCap submissions page.

Are your clients entitled to compensation?

In case you missed it, the Commerce Commission (ComCom) made a few announcements recently which may benefit your clients:

  • Commission releases report on motor vehicle financing and add-on products
  • Online lender Moola admits failure to behave as a responsible lender
  • Online lender Harmoney admits to charging unreasonable fees

These announcements are timely as the final updates in the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA) came into effect on 1 December 2021.

Vehicle financing

ComCom has released a report following its review of motor vehicle financing and related add-on products.

Section 9 in the new Responsible Lending Code highlights what the lender’s responsibility is when financing these products.

If you think your client can’t afford a product that is likely to deliver little or no benefit, you may be able to challenge the Mechanical Breakdown Insurance as outlined in the report: Six of these 13 consumers also reported that they believed that it was compulsory to purchase the add-on (page 37).

Refunds from Moola

Online lender Moola has agreed to refund the interest and fees paid by the 50 borrowers for loans provided between 6 June 2015 and 30 November 2017.

The company has admitted it failed to make reasonable inquiries to satisfy itself that it was likely that its loans met borrowers’ requirements and objectives, and that borrowers would be able to make repayments without suffering substantial hardship.

The complete settlement agreement between ComCom and Moola is available online.

Refunds from Harmoney

Harmoney will repay a total of $7 million to approximately 37,000 borrowers it over-charged on loans entered into between 26 August 2014 and 25 August 2021, and will be contacting affected borrowers as part of the settlement.

It may take up to two years to complete this process. You can find more information about this on the Harmoney website.

Plan your spending: Don’t feel silly this season

Donald O’Meara describes the stress from ongoing debt as seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, except it moved further away every time he moved towards it.

But this year, Donald and his wife, Trudy, are looking forward to the festive season in Auckland thanks to some careful planning – which started in mid-2021.

The couple have been working with the financial mentors at Tamaki Budgeting for the past few years to help gain control of their personal finances.

The service usually runs a 12-week MoneyMates programme to help people plan for Christmas (but it was unable to go ahead this year because of the COVID-19 restrictions).

Read more on the MoneyTalks website.

Support our bid for sustainable funding

As you may know, FinCap is calling for an increase in overall funding to higher levels and for all financial mentors so we can continue to support our communities.

We recently shared a toolkit with the main contacts we have for each service on sharing your good news with local media to support our bid for sustainable funding, by showcasing the incredible work financial mentors do in your communities.

If you’re interested in a Zoom hui to discuss how you can work with your local media further, email communications advisor Amie Hickland on amie@fincap.org.nz.

Financial mentor survey

We’ve also shared the final report from the recent survey some of you took part in with selected Ministers to further support our bid.

Any details have been de-identified but if we’re using a bit more from what you’ve shared with us, we’ve already let you know.

We plan to share the report publicly early next year.

Successful first year in NZBA partnership

We want to thank everybody who has been involved in making our first year of our New Zealand Bankers’ Association (NZBA) partnership a success.

We recently presented them with the Year One NZBA FinCap Partnership Report. Some of the highlights include:

  • Communities of Practice for 332 financial mentors
  • Funding to seven services to create their own banking collaboration projects
  • Creating marketing resources for all services
  • Progressing with work for iwi and Pacific Peoples to build financial capability

We’ll continue developing the Communities of Practice next year and we’re also working on a refreshed knowledgebase for financial mentors – so watch this space. We look forward to engaging with you on next year’s projects

You can read the Year One NZBA FinCap Partnership Report on Te Papa Hou.

EnergyMate evaluation and panel discussion

The Electricity Retailers’ Association of New Zealand (ERANZ) hosted an online panel discussion recently on the key findings of the EnergyMate pilot, and the next steps for the programme in Aotearoa.

EnergyMate is an energy coaching service all about helping whānau get the most out of their electricity. For some, that’s a reduced power bill, for others, it’s a warmer, drier, healthier home.

Following the success of the initial pilot in 2019, EnergyMate is operating in 13 locations across Aotearoa, and to date has supported more than 1000 households with energy advice and targeted support.

The recording of the panel session can be watched here. A summary of the evaluation can be viewed through this link, and the full evaluation can be downloaded here.

Encourage #saferspending this Christmas

We’ve teamed up with Sorted, Good Shepherd NZ, Ngā Tāngata Microfinance and Christians Against Poverty NZ to encourage safer spending this Christmas.

A campaign promoting the services available of each of the organisations, along with safer ways to shop to avoid a #buynowpainlater situation, kicked off in the lead up to Black Friday sales and Christmas.

This is part of our commitment under the National Strategy for Financial Capability.

You may want to use some of the images on your social media channels in the lead up to Christmas with the hashtags #saferspending and #financialcapability.

Or, you can keep an eye out on the MoneyTalks Facebook page and share our posts to help spread the message.

Email communications advisor Amie Hickland on amie@fincap.org.nz for a copy of the images.

Scholarship for dispute resolution research

Utilities Disputes Limited (UDL) has introduced a new scholarship open to applicants who have an interest in dispute resolution and/or the utilities sector. The scholarship is worth up to $25,000 and aims to support research in a field relevant to UDL and its stakeholders and encourage diversity and leadership in dispute resolution.

UDL wants to assist research that will make a positive change in the challenging environment that is disputes resolution. Please contact Markus Frey at m.frey@utilitiesdisputes.co.nz for a word find out more about this exciting opportunity or visit the website UDL for more information.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 26 January 2022.

Something to share?

If you have a story to share, please reach out to communications advisor Amie Hickland at amie@fincap.org.nz.

Follow FinCap and MoneyTalks on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest news and information.

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