Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
ASB research alongside benefit numbers from the Ministry of Social Development shows an increased number of Kiwis are struggling financially, and many may not be aware they’re eligible for government support.
ASB data indicates 30,000 of the bank’s customers could potentially be missing out on government financial support available. This is despite a two percent increase in the number of New Zealanders receiving government support in the last year, to 12 percent of the working age population.
To help connect customers with benefits they might qualify for, the bank has developed Support Finder – a new digital tool available in ASB’s mobile banking app. Support Finder asks customers a few simple questions and identifies if they may be eligible for financial help before guiding them to relevant government agencies, where they can apply for support.
ASB Chief Executive Officer Vittoria Shortt says Support Finder is a practical way ASB can help customers improve their financial wellbeing.
“We take a holistic view of our customers’ financial situations. We know that many of our customers are living pay-day to pay-day and may be under significant financial stress, and we’re determined to do all we can to help.
“We have many ways in which we can help our customers improve their financial wellbeing, however we also want our customers to feel educated and empowered to explore potential financial assistance available, and that includes government support they may not be aware of. Every little bit counts, and we know the difference it can make for customers when they are able to comfortably pay for everyday expenses and to save for a rainy day.”
Research on ASB customers’ financial wellbeing shows 39 percent are living pay-day to pay-day, often experiencing multiple payment problems and an additional 18 percent of customers were spending more than 80 percent of their income every month.
This supports insights from the Financial Services Council’s Financial Resilience Index which reports that 77 percent of those under 37 years of age say they worry about money daily, weekly or monthly, with the majority saying this also affects their mental and physical wellbeing.
Support Finder is available to all customers in the ASB Mobile app and Ms Shortt encourages every ASB customer to give the tool a try.
“While customers experiencing personal or financial setbacks right now may benefit the most, it is still valuable for any Kiwi to know what financial support may be available to them.”
Support Finder currently includes 12 government financial assistance options from the Ministry of Social Development and Inland Revenue, with plans to add more in the coming months. ASB will also be training its staff to help identify customers that may be eligible for these benefits.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for our customers to get ahead and to achieve their financial goals, and this is just one more tool we’re adding to help them do that,” says Ms Shortt.