During the year, an application for a NILS loan was received from an individual on the aged pension. They live alone in a home they have owned for 20 years. The applicant had previously accessed NILS loans regularly as a way of keeping their car on the road via loans for registration and car repairs.
When their gas hot water service needed replacing last year, there was no extra money in the budget to pay a plumber to replace it. After going without hot water for more than six months (some of the time during winter), my client finally gave me a call. Working directly with the original plumber and accessing a Centrelink advance with a NILS top up loan, we were able to get the hot water service replaced. Repayments were set up at an amount which enabled our client to pay both the Centrelink advance and the NILS loan without causing any further hardship.
During my time at NILS I have come across these types of issues with my NILS clients who own their own homes. When they are only receiving Centrelink and particularly when a partner has died – therefore income is less – the cost of maintaining a property becomes problematic. Adding in land and water rates onto an already tight budget, often property maintenance is let go until something such as a hot water service gets to a point where a solution must be found. It is also worth noting that people who are on a Centrelink benefit whilst owning a property do not receive any rent assistance, so cash flow is often an issue.