Families still not signed up for subsidies

Posted on 31 May 2018
Families still not signed up for subsidies

(Australian Associated Press)

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has braved a dozen toddlers at a Canberra childcare centre to remind hundreds of thousands of families they have a month to sign up to new subsidies.

The Turnbull government is combining existing subsidies for childcare into a single means- and activity-tested payment.

But almost half a million eligible families haven't updated their Centrelink account details via myGov in order to receive the new funding.

While 673,000 families have updated their information, another 489,000 still need to make the switch.

Senator Birmingham says he isn't disappointed by the low uptake but reminds families yet to sign up of the importance of updating their details to ensure there is no disruption to their payments.

"We know many families are time poor but this is about giving them the support they need and deserve to pay their childcare bills," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"And it's worth the 10 minutes or so it might take to update your details because ultimately you'll be hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars a year better off."

The minister said although arrangements were in place to ensure families who failed to meet the July 2 deadline didn't miss out, it would take time to repay withheld money once they had signed up.

Required information includes estimated income for 2018/19 and approximate work hours for both parents.

Under the new system, both parents must be working, studying, volunteering or searching for work at least eight hours a fortnight to be eligible for the subsidies.

Families with annual incomes under $186,958 will no longer face a cap on the amount of fee rebate the government will pay each year.

For those earning more than this, the annual cap will lift from $7500 to just over $10,000 a child.

Labor early childhood education spokeswoman Amanda Rishworth said not enough had been done to alert families to the impending deadline.

"It is (the government's) responsibility. There is a lot more they could have done. They could have worked with centres who are at the coalface," Ms Rishworth said.

"They haven't done that. Instead they've done a slick advertising campaign on TV and nothing else."

Labor claims one in four families will be worse off under the changes and the majority of those missing out are in the lowest two income brackets.

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What's the answer if your mortgage repayment falls short?

Posted on 24 May 2018
What's the answer if your mortgage repayment falls short?

Whether you're affected by fluctuating interest rates or or by a change in your personal circumstances, the pressure of maintaining regular mortgage loan repayments can be overwhelming at times. Here is some information to help you understand the available alternatives.

What to do before it gets worse

If you're about to miss a mortgage payment or already have, rest assured there is help available. Taking a big breath and raising the issue with your lender is the best thing you can do in fact, the earlier you do that, the more options your lender will have to assist you.

Failing to resolve the situation may force the lender into taking action against you. This can include:

  • Fees being applied.
  • A higher default interest rate on missed payments.
  • Taking recovery action on your home loan, forcing a property sale.
  • Enforcement charges, plus court and legal costs.

A two-way relationship

Your lender will want to help you maintain your mortgage. One option is to give your lender a hardship notice. It looks like this:

  • First, you contact your lender to explain the situation, which may require a person-to-person meeting at their office.
  • Before the meeting, consider what options are available and define a 'plan of attack'. This will show the lender that you're proactively searching for an answer. After all, people are more likely to want to help you if they can see you're trying to help yourself.
  • Whatever plan you decide on, you can give your lender a hardship notice orally or in writing that you are unable to meet your obligations your lender can guide you in this.
  • Your lender has 21 days from receiving your hardship notice to ask you for any further information it requires. If it does not require further information, it has 21 days from receiving your hardship notice to decide whether or not it will agree to change your loan.
  • Depending on your situation, the lender may come back with a scenario to ease payments for the short term, increasing them later. This may escalate your overall loan costs, but you will maintain your home and mortgage, and will be better off in the long run.
  • Your lender must give you a notice as to whether or not it agrees with to change your loan following a hardship notice. If the lender does not agree, it must give you reasons why.

Lenders do have an obligation to consider your request, so don't think that it's a lost cause. If the lender will not assist you, you may be able to make a complaint to an external dispute resolution scheme of which your lender is a member. Your lender can give you details of how to contact that scheme.

Helpful support

Believe it or not, you're not on your own every month there are mortgage holders having issues with making payments, and just as there are legal rights for home buyers, there are also legal services for mortgage holders.

Perhaps there are also other financial issues, or bills, that also need attention, in which case free advice is available from the Financial Counseling hotline on 1800 007 007.

Albeit a difficult and somewhat embarrassing issue, you can speak to your mortgage broker about your loan issues. They will explain your options, suggest a plan, and work with you to minimise worries and achieve a resolution.

Whether you're a client or not, if you require more information or advice contact your local broker as soon as possible. They can help with sorting through what options are available to resolve your financial difficulties.

Visit Moneysmart.gov.au, another great resource for tips to help you keep up with your mortgage repayments.

Source: Your Loan Hub

Posted in: News  

Federal Budget Update 2018

Posted on 10 May 2018
On May 8, the Turnbull Government delivered its third Federal Budget. There are a number of proposed benefits and measures that you should be aware of as they may impact you. The attached flyers for retirees and pre-retirees, and couples and young families summarise some of the proposed measures for young couples, families and retirees with useful case studies and tables. The proposals outlined need to pass through Parliament before becoming law and may change through the process. If you would like to discuss the policy measures and their potential impact on your own situation, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Posted in: News  

Sharp rise in living costs for pensioners

Posted on 3 May 2018
Sharp rise in living costs for pensioners

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)


Workers may be getting a little excited about the prospect of a tax cut in next week's federal budget to help with their cost of living pressures, but new figures suggest it is retirees who may need a greater helping hand.

Consumer confidence, according to one survey, has risen for three straight weeks heading into next Tuesday's budget where personal income tax cuts are expected to be its centrepiece.

However, despite this better mood, respondents may have been a little surprised by the benign result of the latest quarterly inflation figures released last month, particularly if they are struggling to make ends meet in a low wage growth environment.

The consumer price index, which measures a basket of goods and services, rose just 0.4 per cent in the March quarter for an annual rate of 1.9 per cent, below the Reserve Bank two to three per cent target band.

However, the Australian Bureau of Statistics also produces its cost of living indexes every three months, which measure the impact of inflation on various households.

They gauge how much after-tax incomes need to change to allow different types of households to purchase the same quantity of consumer goods in a given period.

For employee households, the cost of living is calculated to have grown at a slightly higher rate than the CPI would suggest, increasing at 0.5 per cent for an annual rate of two per cent.

The bureau blames this on a 2.8 per cent increase in education fees at the start of the new school year and a 1.1 per cent rise in transport costs through rising petrol prices.

This assumes employee households are raising children and need to travel to and from work while enjoying falls in international holiday travel if they took advantage of winter off-peak sales.

However, age pensioner households are deemed to have a greater reliance on health products and services, which rose 5.5 per cent in the March quarter.

The bureau also calculated such households would have endured a 0.7 per cent increase in housing costs, including electricity.

Overall, pensioners would have seen a cost of living increase of 0.8 per cent over the quarter, double the quarterly rate of CPI.

Posted in: News  

Australian economy to grow a bit faster than 3 per cent: RBA

Posted on 3 May 2018
Australian economy to grow a bit faster than 3 per cent: RBA

Christian Edwards
(Australian Associated Press)

Reserve Bank of Australia boss Philip Lowe says there should be no surprises when he makes his quarterly statement on the health of the economy this Friday.

Speaking in Adelaide on Tuesday after the RBA held Australia's official cash rate at its record low 1.5 per cent, Dr Lowe said his upcoming Statement on Monetary Policy "should not contain any surprises".

"This year and next, our central scenario remains for the Australian economy to grow a bit faster than 3 per cent," he told an RBA board dinner function.

While unemployment is lower and lower inflation is returning to around the middle of the target range, the bank expects any progress on these fronts to be gradual.

Dr Lowe said the nation's weak household spending and sluggish wages growth remain a concern for the economy.

"While we might like faster progress, it is encouraging that things are moving in the right direction," he said.

The Reserve Bank board is also closely monitoring global risks including the management of China's "very significant" build-up of debt.

The other prominent concern Dr Lowe flagged was the possible escalation of protectionist measures in the United States and elsewhere.

"The very clear lesson from history is that this would be bad for growth," Dr Lowe said.

"As a country that has prospered through openness, Australia has a lot resting on this not happening."

Dr Lowe said if the economy met the expected performance of a steady gain in wages and inflation, and a gradual reduction in the jobless rate, it was "reasonable to expect that the next move in interest rates will be up".
Posted in: News  

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