Fears at Stae Government funding cut for financial counselling services

VITAL funding for financial counselling services has been re-allocated by the State Government, but there are concerns it is not enough.

In June it was revealed the State Government planned to stop funding to not-for-profit financial counsellors in metropolitan areas and save at least $6 million over the next four years.

But in a welcome turn-around earlier this month, Community Services Minister Tony Simpson said the Government had identified funds which could be reprioritised to financial counselling services through to June 30, 2018.

Under the new model delivered by the Department of Local Government and Communities, metropolitan services will receive $2 million each year.

“With this funding, there will continue to be a mix of face-to-face services and telephone support for vulnerable people who are experiencing financial hardship and require assistance to manage their situation,” Mr Simpson said.

But Western Australian Council of Social Services chief executive Irina Cattalini was unsure there would be any improvements under the new service model, considering the Government was yet to prove the previous system was inefficient.

“We maintain our call for the State Government to restore full funding needed for face-to-face services, which is closer to $4 million,” Ms Cattalini said.

“The $2m that has been secured, while welcome, will not be adequate to ensure a sustainable service system that meets the needs of vulnerable people in financial hardship.”

Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said the funding was inadequate, “given the previous allocation was about $4.2 million”.

“The likely ongoing reduction of services is completely unacceptable for community members facing financial hardship,” he said.

“A delay in accessing services can result in major impacts on their lives, like the loss of their home.”