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Call for $30m advice spend

By Madeleine Collins
 — 1 minute read
Government to spend millions on planners under new plan.
The housing lobby is calling on the major parties to commit $30 million to give low-cost financial advice to struggling mortgage holders.

But it admits the chronic skills shortage of financial planners could be a stumbling block to the service.

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) wants the Federal Government's Financial Literacy Foundation expanded to provide financial counselling and budgeting advice to households and first home buyers under mortgage stress.

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It would involve an expansion of the program's current budget of $2.7 million to $30 million over four years, Housing Industry Association senior executive director of industry policy Chris Lamont said.

"We think it's an excellent program but it's hopelessly inadequate for what we're talking about," Lamont said.

The Financial Literacy Foundation would not comment on policy matters in the lead up to the election, a spokesman said.

Under the HIA's proposal, bank-aligned planners would not be allowed to sell the bank's own products to struggling homeowners.

Planners giving advice would need to be independent of a lender or broker's commission channel.

There is a clear need for planners to get some sort of government assistance but there may not be enough advisers in Australia to provide the service, Lamont said.

"You need to strengthen the pool of resources available to the financial planning sector," he said.

Financial Planning Association chief executive Jo-Anne Bloch acknowledged that advice is expensive and said any low-cost advice proposal should include people struggling under credit card debt and low superannuation savings.

"It's a much wider issue than mortgage stress," Bloch said.

Bloch said fee-for-service advice on debt should be tax deductible and planners should be allowed to give low-cost general advice.

She added that bank lenders would be well placed to contribute to the work of the Financial Literacy Foundation, not just taxpayers.

Lamont will meet with Australian Financial Counselling and Credit Reform Association chair David Tennant next week to discuss the plan.

 

Call for $30m advice spend
Government to spend millions on planners under new plan.
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