The non-bank lender has committed to invest a quarter of a million dollars in bushfire relief over the next two years, including a $100,000 donation to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.
While Australian bushfires have been burning since September 2019, the past few weeks have seen a heightening of the crisis – with nearly 30 people having lost their lives, thousands of homes having been destroyed and widespread loss to bushland and wildlife.
Pepper Money has become the latest lender to release a support package, after announcing that it is earmarking $250,000 for relief efforts.
The package includes a $100,000 donation to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) to help alleviate the immediate burdens being faced by communities living in the areas most heavily affected by the bushfires. The FRRR’s Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund will provide grants to local not-for-profit groups for community-led projects that address the most pressing needs that emerge 12-18 months after a disaster event.
Pepper Money said it has also reached out to affected customers directly to offer financial assistance where necessary, offering repayment holidays, waiving of fees and loan variations, as required.
Looking forward, the non-bank lender has committed the remaining funds of its $250,000 financial commitment to help bushfire-affected communities with their longer-term recovery, pledging to establish a program of work for bushfire relief, combining financial assistance and employee volunteering over the next two years.
Pepper Money chief executive Mario Rehayem commented: “The destruction that the bushfires are causing across Australia is saddening us all. Our thoughts are with everybody affected by the fires, and we thank those who are working tirelessly to provide emergency assistance.”
He added: “In our experience, the recovery from a natural disaster like this can take some time. That’s why Pepper Money’s commitment provides for both immediate and longer-term assistance to those customers and brokers in bushfire-affected areas.
“Our bushfire relief program will be shaped through discussions with our customers, employees and partners,” he said.
“Pepper Money is dedicated to helping people succeed; it’s at the heart of what we do. Our team at Pepper Money is committed to standing with community organisations and helping them to flourish once again after the bushfires,” Mr Rehayem concluded.
Aggregators join industry bushfire relief fund
The Pepper announcement comes hot on the heels of the three NAB-owned aggregators – PLAN, Choice and FAST – pledging funds to the Mortgage and Finance Industry Bushfire Relief fund.
The fund has been supported by the FBAA and the MFAA, as well as a wide range of individual brokers and broking industry members.
PLAN, Choice and FAST are also offering affected broker members access to NAB grants for “immediate care” if they have lost their home or suffered significant damage to their business property during the bushfires, alongside access to counselling services.
Major brokerages Aussie, Loan Market and Mortgage Choice have also all joined the Mortgage and Finance Industry Bushfire Relief effort, partnering with the fund and contributing $100,000 each.