The Illawarra Legal Centre's financial counselling service has been recognised with state government funds for a major expansion of the program.
The service was one of the first of its kind when it was set up 25 years ago.
Financial counsellor Maroun Germanos said issues with finance were always among the major problems of people who came to the centre, so it made sense to have a financial counselling service attached. He said there had always been strong demand for the centre's financial advice and that was expected to grow after it received a $247,850 grant to expand.
Mr Germanos, who has been with the ILC for 23 years, said people with welfare and social security issues often also had credit card and loan issues.
Mortgage stress was also a growing issue the service dealt with.
Apart from its main office in Warrawong, the ILC will soon be offering financial counselling in Corrimal, Wollongong and Warilla.
The legal service will also partner with Lifeline South Coast to deliver services in Kiama, Nowra and Ulladulla.
Yesterday Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts was on hand to present a cheque to the ILC.
Mr Roberts said most people accessed services such as those offered by the centre when they had been in serious financial problems. "Serious" is defined as someone who has been having financial problems for more than two years.
But Mr Roberts said it was important for people to be aware they could access services early.
"What we are finding more in NSW is there is a new working poor and these are people who have never come to these financial counselling services before," he said.
"They are mums and dads with kids with a mortgage, often both working as hard as they can, but their income is just not meeting the outgoings, and with rising costs of fuel, electricity and water they find it so difficult.