This week was the first time the New Zealand Government has invested in debt solution services that will change the
lives of many people who are at a loss when it comes to repaying their loans.
co-founders Christine Liggins and Shaun Adams, and associate director Clementine Baker, have been in discussions with
the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) for some months –
encouraging the Government to financially back debt solutions.
“There are only three organisations providing genuine debt support for the community; Debtfix, Good Shepherd and
Christians Against Poverty,” says Liggins.
“At this stage we don’t know how we will be supported but the announcement by the Minister for Social Development Carmel
Sepuloni and the Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs Hon Kris Faafoi states they are addressing anticipated
increases in debt by supporting existing specialist debt services.
“That is us.”
Budgeting services have received government funding for years and this is the first time debt specialists are being
financially recognised for the impact they have on everyday New Zealanders.
Since Covid-19, Debtfix has experienced increased requests from people who are desperate for debt advice and support,
which most frequently is provided for free by Debtfix.
“The announcement recognises we are doing valuable work,” says Liggins. “It is encouraging that there will be a strategy
for a national approach to address problem debt.”
MSD and MBIE announced: ‘The funding boost of $4.3 million over two years is for the expansion of existing specialist
debt services, building on the extra $35m of funding ($9.7m cost pressure funding and $25.2m Covid Response and Recovery
funding) rolled out for core Building Financial Capability (BFC) services, formerly budgeting services, announced at the
end of May.’
This marks a significant achievement for Debtfix and committed organisations and individuals who have worked for years
to highlight the value of supporting people to repay problem debt in a safe way.
Debtfix has also approached the financial sector for funding and discussions are progressing well, and they are
collaborating to design a new solution to support clients.
Debt services differ from budgeting services, in that the Debtfix team specialises in developing and manging debt
repayment programmes and advocates for people trapped by spiralling interest payments and penalties.
The new initiatives have the potential to result in a measurable positive impact on the wellbeing of thousands of New
Zealanders and their whānau.
Debtfix looks forward to hearing the next step and commends MSD and MBIE for addressing the Kiwi debt problem.