Nourish

Securing your finances and future - steps to take and where to go for help.

3f. Financial assistance for living costs

Est. read time: 3 min

Utilities

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Contacting your provider

If you're having trouble paying bills the first thing you should do is contact your provider. Most companies have hardship officers who can help you work out a plan to pay your bills in instalments. Some useful sources of information are:

If you have been threatened with a disconnection notice, seek help as soon as possible. Call your provider or the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.  Further information on disconnections and your rights can be found at the Economic Regulation Authority website.

Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme (HUGS)

HUGS provides a one off grant to help Western Australians experiencing financial hardship who are at risk of having their utilities disconnected, and sets up a payment arrangement. The maximum grant per applicant is $581 (or $962 for those living north of the 26th Parallel – approximately Shark Bay on the Western Australian coast). More information can be found at the Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme webpage.

Dependent Child Electricity Rebate

This provides assistance to eligible concession card holders with dependent children to meet electricity costs. The rebate is calculated according to the number of dependent children on your concession card. More information can be found at the Dependent Child Electricity Rebate webpage.

Phones and Internet

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Each phone and internet provider has a program for people in financial difficulty.  If yours isn’t listed below you can run an internet search on your browser using the name of your provider, such as ‘Telstra, financial hardship‘.  This should should get you to the right place.

Banks

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Each bank has its own options for people in financial difficulty.  If yours isn’t listed below you can run an internet search on your browser using the name of your bank, such as ‘Westpac, financial hardship‘.  This should should get you to the right place.

Further information on how banks can help can be found at 1b. How can your bank or financial advisor help when you are preparing to leave?

Assistance with rent

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Department of Housing rental assistance whilst in a refuge

If you rent a Department of Housing home and need to stay at Women's Refuge you can put in an application for the “absentee minimum rent” which reduces your rent to $10 per week for up to 3 months. Contact the Housing Authority on 1800 093 325

Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme

If you had a residential tenancy agreement in place on 29 June 2021 and are facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme up to the extended closing date of 31 December 2021.  You can apply for:

  • Rent support grants up to $2,000 if you have faced a significant rent increase you can’t afford; and
  • Rent arrears assistance to help pay a current outstanding rent debt incurred before 1 December 2020. Grants for 75% of the rent arrears up to a maximum of $4,000 will be paid directly to eligible landlords.

If you are eligible, you can apply for both grants, but you can’t receive both grants – the processing officer will calculate which grant will provide the greatest benefit.  You can find out more information at the Residential Rent Relief Grant Scheme web page.

No Interest Loans for living costs

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The No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS)

Thius scheme offers loans without interest up to $1,500 for essentials, goods and services such as white-goods, furniture, education, dental or car repair expenses.  The loans provide a safe and affordable alternative to high cost finance options such as payday loans or “rent to buy” plans which can promise fast cash but may end up worsening financial difficulties.

To be eligible for NILS you must have a healthcare or pension card, earn under $45,000, have lived in your current residence for 3 months and have a willingness and capacity to repay the loan.  There are no credit checks.  NILS  loans cannot be used for cash, holidays or paying bills like rent.

More information can be found at the Good Shepherd website or WA No Interest Loans website.

Covid hardship support and loans without interest

You may be eligible for household relief loans up to $3,000 for rent, rates, body corporate fees and utility bills – with no interest, charges or fees.  You can also get advice through a free COVID hardship support line.  Further information can be found by calling 1300 121 130 or at the Household relief website.

Other useful links

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[Article updated: 15/8/21]

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