22 Jul 2018

Govt looking for safer credit options to help people buy cars

10:30 am on 22 July 2018

The government is taking a closer look at ideas aimed at preventing people from ending up in huge amounts of debt when they need to buy a car.


Driving Photo: 123RF

Representatives from across the finance industry met at a forum this week to discuss ways to improve access to safe credit for vulnerable consumers.

Lyn McMorran from the Financial Services Federation said many people needed to have a car to get around and get to work.

But for those who were struggling financially, the options could be limited.

"For responsible lenders, sometimes you just can't help some people because of the lack of affordability. There has to be another way of doing this other than the traditional 'here is a loan and this is what it's going to cost you to repay it," Ms McMorran said.

Forum participants came up with three ideas to ensure people had access to safe, reliable and affordable cars.

They included an affordable ownership model, a social leasing programme and community ride-sharing.

The affordable ownership model would involve having a pool of safe, reliable cars that people would be able to purchase through approved dealers and financiers.

For those who didn't want to own a car, the social leasing programme could take vehicles that have come to the end of their first lease period - and are still roadworthy - and give them a second life.

"People then don't have the actual cost of having to make loan repayments on those vehicles, but the lease cost would cover things like registration, insurance, the average maintenance costs, keeping it on the road and keeping it safe," Ms McMorran said.

Keeping people out of crippling debt was also important.

Ms McMorran said people could end up in a worse and worse position if they were having to borrow money from unscrupulous lenders to pay for cars and car repairs.

"We know that there's a real problem out there for a lot of people who are really struggling - there are high rents and high fuel costs and a lot of the vehicles they are driving are not fuel efficient either, let alone safe," she said.

"We've got to do something to do something different because what we've got now just doesn't work."

The Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister, Kris Faafoi, has asked for a progress report on the initiatives by October.

The government is also tightening up the law to crack down on predatory lenders and loan sharks.