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Citizens Advice Bureaux see impact of economic downturn

Wednesday 11 March 2009, 11:01AM

By Citizens Advice Bureaux NZ

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Citizens Advice Bureaux nationwide saw a 31% increase in clients experiencing financial difficulty in the six months from July to December 2008, compared to the previous 6 months.

“Bureaux report that this increase has largely been driven by people looking for options when they are facing insolvency”, says Kerry Dalton, Chief Executive of the NZ Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux.

Clair Teal, a Manager at Wellington CAB reports that in her Bureau they have noticed a sense of despair amongst clients seeking information about bankruptcy.

“These are clients who feel that there are no alternatives available to them other than relinquishing their ability to travel and have a good credit rating because they are so in debt, says Ms Teal. They are trying to get on with their lives and improve their lot but their financial situation is making this really difficult.”

Citizens Advice Bureaux in other areas of the country report cases such as people suddenly being made redundant and being faced with mounting debt, people losing income from investments and looking at bankruptcy, and people struggling to pay their mortgages, says Ms Dalton.

There was also a 9% increase nationwide in people coming to the Citizens Advice Bureaux seeking assistance from food banks, says Ms Dalton.

This week is Citizens Advice Awareness Week. Bureaux throughout NZ are making a big push, this week, to ensure that people know that they can come to the CAB with any question or issue.

As more people face uncertain times, we want to make sure that they know that Citizens Advice Bureau is a place that they can come into or ring about any issue affecting them, says Ms Dalton.

Even with this increase in people seeking help when they find themselves in financial difficulty, we know that there are still people who do not realise they can ring or drop in to a Citizens Advice Bureau and get assistance.

Our Bureaux interviewers have been trained to find out and explain what your rights and options are in any situation that you face, says Ms Dalton, and this service is completely free, confidential and independent.

Most CAB’s run a free legal service at least once a week, says Ms Dalton. If we find that you need legal advice then we can refer you to our free legal service, as well as to other specialist services run out of the Bureaux or in the community.

During the week 9 -14 March, Citizens Advice Bureaux will be promoting the service in their local communities.

In the twelve months from January to December 2008, Citizens Advice Bureaux assisted with 659,385 client enquiries across the gamut of issues that affect people in their lives.

Citizens Advice Bureaux are in 90 communities throughout NZ and have a free phone number 0800 367 222 that is free to ring from anywhere in the country.

If people are not fluent in English, this need not be a problem. CAB Language Link provides interpreting support in 26 different languages. Anyone can just pick up the phone or come into a Bureau and there will be a friendly, trained person to help.

Citizens Advice Bureaux Awareness Week runs from 9 -14th of March

For further information Contact
Kerry Dalton

Chief Executive

NZ Association of Citizen Advice Bureaux

027 688 2790

04 382 8759

Or to speak to someone in a Bureaux in your area ring

Tim Mapp

Glen Innes branch

Auckland CAB

Ph (09) 528 9151

Jane Eynon- Richards

Rotorua CAB

Ph (07) 348 3547

Claire Teal

Central City branch

Wellington CAB

Ph (04) 460 9398

Lyn Devery

Invercargill and Districts CAB

Ph (03) 218 6648