Record number of older Australians seeking financial help: Debt hotlines

  • bizline

Oct 17, 2018-

A record number of elderly Australians are living in poverty, debt assistance services have warned. The National Debt Helpline (NDH), the government’s financial counselling service, is on-track to receive a record number of calls in 2018 and staff have observed a marked increase in the number of older Australians who cannot pay their rent or mortgage. “Call volumes are huge,” Karen Cox, a coordinator with the Financial Rights Legal Centre, which runs the NDH, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday. “We’re at capacity in terms of the number of calls we can take.” The NDH data is in line with that of the Salvation Army’s financial counselling service, Moneycare, which saw an 18 percent increase in calls in the 2017-18 financial year. The proportion of people accessing the service aged 55 and older has increased 37 percent since 2008. “I think it’s the change in circumstances,” Moneycare financial counsellor Kristen Hartnett said. “People hit retirement, and they’re still carrying heavy debt with mortgages and credit cards.” Hartnett said that there had been a big increase in the number of callers considered to be in “severe debt,” which is defined as debt worth more than six times a person’s disposable income. “The trigger may be someone who can’t afford hot water, that’s when they connect with us,” she said. 

Published: 17-10-2018 09:08

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