Lender calls for more action on single female disadvantage

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A South Australian lender has called on the industry to adopt practical measures aimed at tackling single female disadvantages.

HomeStart Finance wants the financial services sector to implement changes that will help single women find independence after life-changing events.

Some of the measures adopted by HomeStart Finance include low deposit loans, providing an alternative to lenders mortgage insurance, loan options that boost the amount borrowed and the recognition of a broader range of incomes for eligibility, such as family tax benefits or Centrelink payments.

HomeStart chief executive officer John Oliver said changes like these are necessary as many women are struggling to maintain home ownership, following events such as divorce or separation.

“In family relationships, the home is the key to stability, providing both financial strength and a place where the family, and in particular children, feel safe and nurtured,” Mr Oliver said.

“In the event of divorce or separation, many women feel their lives have been thrown into limbo as they struggle to provide for the needs of their children, but also provide the safe haven of a home.

“In many cases, it’s impossible for a newly-divorced or separated woman to remain in the family home on a single income or government benefits as income, combined with the demands of childcare fees, school expenses and household costs, with limited money coming in.”

Mr Oliver said the loan options implemented by HomeStart Finance has resulted in more women approaching the lender, with 33 per cent of its total loan portfolio now made up of single females. Of these loans, 40 per cent are non-first home buyers.

“Owning a home enables single parents to move out of the rental cycle, which can be particularly unsettling on the family due to the disruptions of moving home,” he said.

“Over time they are generally able to find their feet and establish financial independence. Often, it’s just the helping hand they need to get over the first financial hurdle and set them and their family on the right path.

“There’s no reason that some or all of the measures that HomeStart Finance currently has in place couldn’t be adopted more broadly across the financial services sector.”

[Related: Pepper announces new home loan offer]

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