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Charities join forces to fight personal debt

Posted at 8:00am Thursday 18 Feb, 2021

National Party MP for Kaipara ki Mahurangi Chris Penk, left, discusses New Zealanders’ personal debt problems with Christine Liggins, from Debtfix, and Michael Ward, from Christians Against Poverty.
National Party MP for Kaipara ki Mahurangi Chris Penk, left, discusses New Zealanders' personal debt problems with Christine Liggins, from Debtfix, and Michael Ward, from Christians Against Poverty.

Representatives of organisations dedicated to reducing New Zealanders' personal debt met in Warkworth last month in a quest to deliver better help to people struggling financially.

The hui, organised by Mahurangi-based debt solution service Debtfix, came in the wake of news that planned law changes to force lenders to be more responsible, which were due to be introduced in April, have been pushed back to October.

Attending the hui were representatives from FinCap, Ngā Tāngata Microfinance, Good Loans the Ministry of Social Development and Christians Against Poverty. Also in attendance was Kaipara Ki Mahurangi MP Chris Penk.

Mr Penk said he noted the insolvency law reforms discussed at the hui and planned to research them further.

He said the hui revealed how quickly problems could snowball for people on a low income.
Ngā Tāngata representative Linda McCallum outlined how easily someone with limited means could end up in dire straits.

She said they might take a high-interest loan to buy an old car that invariably broke down. They then borrowed more money for the repairs and became trapped in a debt cycle, saddled with an unreliable vehicle that could hinder their earning ability.

Meanwhile, Debtfix founder Christine Liggins outlined Shipshape, a new debt solution co-designed by Debtfix and lenders, and specifically adapted for New Zealand.

Shipshape is currently in a pilot testing phase.

She said Shipshape had borrowers interests at heart, but believed it would also be supported by lenders, since it could improve the amount of debt they could recover, compared to returns achieved by debt collectors.   

Mrs Liggins says the positive feedback after the event has encouraged her to organise further hui.

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