Can your Organisation Help More Low Income Tasmanians Access Safe, Affordable Credit through NILS Tasmania?

cameron@tascoss.org.au

1 June 2021

    The NILS (No Interest Loans Scheme) Network of Tasmania Inc. is a not-for-profit community organisation and is Tasmania’s own community lending service. Our aim is to help low income Tasmanians access affordable credit for essential household items and services rather than having to lease or rent items or take out costly pay day loans.  NILS assists with everything from car registrations, fridges, washing machines, phones to laptops.  We do not lend for payment of bills and we do not provide cash loans.

    NILS makes credit available to people who have a low income or who have a concession card. There are no fees, no charges and no interest applied – ever.  We provide non-cash loans from $300 to $1,500.  The client provides the quote for the product/s, we purchase the product from the supplier and the client pays us back at a maximum payment of $40 a fortnight via Centrepay or bank direct debit.   We have recently produced this 30 second video to promote our loans.

    Last year we issued 2,795 micro finance loans valued at over $2.8million.  This was 11% more than in 2018-19, and this financial year we are already issuing 12% more again. 

    We are delighted about this.  The State Government provided us with extra funding as COVID-19 impacted the economy. They wanted us to offer our safe loans as an alternative to predatory lenders as all concerned people would turn to in this time of financial distress.   See the comparison below.

    We know 87% of clients who used rent to buy schemes (eg Rent the Roo, Radio Rentals) in the past no longer used them after getting a NILS loan.   

    71% told us they’ve now stopped using Pay Day lenders after finding NILS J

    We operate through the support of a state-wide network of over 350 NILS volunteer Loan Officers working out of 79 Delivery Partner organisations, in over 105 locations throughout Tasmania.

    NILS Tasmania commenced in 2002.   Since then we have grown year on year and have now issued over 25,000 loans totalling over $23million!  Our loans boost local economies as well, last year we purchased from over 610 Tasmanian suppliers. We know that the funds from our initial loan pool from 2002 have been lent and repaid 16 times, which means each dollar has been spent 16 times through Tasmanian retailers!

    How can you help low income Tasmanians access NILS?

    There are three ways your organisation, staff and volunteers can help NILS help more Tasmanians:

    1. Tell your clients, family, and the world about NILS Tasmania, as a great alternative to predatory lenders. 
    2. Choose for your organisation to join our other 60+ community service partners across the state who offer public access points for community members to apply for a NILS loan.  Your organisation staff or volunteers will be trained and then be publicly listed on our information kit that the clients receive when they make their initial enquiry.
    3. Or choose to be trained to just assist your own/your service’s clients to apply for a NILS loan which is a very easy online loan process.  In this case your organisation will not be publicly listed on our information kit. 

    How does a NILS loan work ?

    The clients call you to get an appointment and then they come in (since COVID-19 it can be done over the phone) and the Delivery Partner logs in to our system and helps the client complete their application (Delivery Partners/Loans Officers have a special log in on our website).  The application includes; their personal details, a budget form to help them work out their fortnightly income and expenses (which for many people is the first formal budget they have worked out for their household). Their support documents are then uploaded to the system (bank statements and quote for the product/s they are seeking to purchase).

    We manage the process from that point.  We assess the loan, particularly the client’s capacity to repay, and work with the client and supplier to enable the purchase, if the loan is approved.

    For a brief summary of our loans process check out this 90 second video that we have produced for clients.

    Depending on the person a loan interview can take between 20 minutes to an hour, but on average it is about 40 minutes. It is a fairly simple and straight forward process.  The loan application itself can assist people have a better sense of their fortnightly budget.  In fact 38% of clients report using a regular budget after going through our process.

    We also have a Micro Business loan program that enables low income Tasmanians to apply for a $3,000 loan to expand or start a small business.  These small loans have made a great impact and 40% of our clients are no longer dependent on Centrelink two years after starting their loan!  These loans are processed within NILS and not by our Delivery Partners.

    Attached are some brochures that describe us in more detail, and our 2019 /20 Annual Report.

    But to motivate you to be involved let some clients tell you why a NILS loan can make a difference.

    “It was a huge difference. My car was extremely unsafe and needed to be fixed and NILS gave my daughter and I a chance to drive a safe car again”

    “After losing all of my furniture due to family violence it was great to use this service to secure and start rebuilding my life”

    “Was able to buy frozen food in bulk for my family, saved me money, made me budget again, just felt really good to be able to own my own appliances without asking family for help”

    We are more than happy to come and talk to you and your team/s (in person or via zoomJ) so you can gain a deeper understanding of NILS and the impact of our loans. This will allow you to consider if and how you might assist us as we ramp up the provision of safe credit to Tasmanians.  We’ve recently done a short Zoom introduction to NILS to staff of a large community organisation so their teams could decide the level of engagement that was appropriate to their work.

    Please contact Melissa Reid, our training and communications coordinator, on 1300 301 650 or via melissa@nilstasmania.org.au or feel free to contact me at john@nilstasmania.org.au  or on 0408320826.  You can check out our website at www.nilstasmania.org.au