Boost for loans program

Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage, Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre (WNC) staff member Melissa Stortenbeker, Minister for Fair Trading Matthew Mason-Cox, No Interest Loans Scheme call centre operator Trish Groarke and WNC manager Morna Colbran at WNC last Friday.

Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage, Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre (WNC) staff member Melissa Stortenbeker, Minister for Fair Trading Matthew Mason-Cox, No Interest Loans Scheme call centre operator Trish Groarke and WNC manager Morna Colbran at WNC last Friday.

Winmalee Neighbourhood Centre (WNC) helped pioneer the No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) in the Blue Mountains a decade ago to help people bounce back in tough times.

Now the WNC team can look forward to delivering this important service for at least another three years after Minister for Fair Trading Matthew Mason-Cox announced last Friday renewed funding of more than $120,000.

Mr Mason Cox said $19,898 will go to WNC and Mid-Mountains Neighbourhood Centre to operate the NILS service one-and-a-half days per week and WNC will receive a further $84,648 to operate the dedicated NILS NSW call centre.

Interest-free loans of up to $1200 are available to low income earners under the scheme to help with purchasing essential household items or medical or dental care costs.

In 2013 more than $168,000 in NILS loans was provided to Blue Mountains residents.

"NILS is a practical hand up rather than a hand out, with loans being repaid in more than 95 per cent of cases," Mr Mason-Cox said

"This ensures funds are put back into the scheme to assist others and supports loan recipients to establish credit ratings and get finance in the future.

"I know in this community it is really important because of what you've been through with the bushfires."

Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage welcomed the additional NILS funding as a way to support Blue Mountains residents who may have fallen on hard times to get their lives back on track.

WNC manager Morna Colbran said "Lyn Trindall initiated the NILS program in the Blue Mountains 10 years ago when it was only available in four or five locations in Sydney".

"It is much-needed because we've had so many bushfire affected people come in since October and access NILS and use the loans to pay for white goods and things like car tyres and automotive repairs and running costs.

"I'm very grateful this funding is being provided in a three-year rollout and also means we can continue to run the NILS hotline service."

For more information about NILS, visit www.nilsnsw.org.au or call the hotline on 1800-509-994.

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