The CAB service has continued to be available to respond to people’s needs during the Covid-19 crisis. We have been called on for help more than ever at this time, with an initial 300% increase in enquiries around the start of the lockdown period and a sustained increase in the weeks that have followed
Our amazing team of volunteers and staff around Aotearoa have seamlessly continued to deliver the CAB service by phone and online from their own homes. We have responded to more than 6,000 enquiries over past 3 weeks from people seeking information and support. These enquiries have covered a huge range of issues.
Our service has also been called on to support welfare outreach by local civil defence offices and by the Ministry of Social Development at a national level checking in with vulnerable people aged 70+ in our communities. We are fortunate to have a willing group of trained and police-vetted volunteers around the country who are generously carrying out this additional work.
We are particularly concerned about digitally excluded people and their access to information and support through this time. We’ve had 277 enquiries where digital exclusion issues were specifically identified, particularly lack of access to a computer or the internet and lack of confidence doing things online. We’re working hard to publicise our 0800 number – please help us by spreading the word that people can contact us in this way.
CAB Insights into Covid-19 Issues
Through our national database of client enquiries, we’ve had real time insights and evidence of the issues people are seeking help with during this crisis. We’ve been actively feeding this into central government to assist with planning and responsiveness at the national level.
Not surprisingly, we have seen a surge of people with employment problems, including a number of clients who have been made redundant with almost no process at all. Other issues include access to and use of the Wage Subsidy, rights when told to take leave or change work hours, and the rights of essential workers who have health concerns.
Tenancy issues have included people stuck between two tenancies having to pay rent in more than one place, people struggling with rent payments on reduced income or because some flatmates have moved out, and a range of concerning situations of tenancies being terminated, or flatmates and boarders being asked to leave.
Clients have also been turning to us in frustration at not being able to access support from Work and Income, simply because they are unable to get in contact with them. We’ve also heard from many clients needing food assistance and who are struggling with reduced income after losing work or having their wages reduced.
We’re very concerned about the situation of migrants who are in New Zealand on work visas and have lost their jobs. These clients don’t have access to any welfare support and are struggling with the basic costs of rent and food. We are continuing to raise concerns about this with the Government.
CAB Covid-19 Information
The CAB is here to give people the knowledge and confidence they need to find their way forward in these difficult times. We are constantly updating our knowledge base to keep up with ongoing developments and ensuring we have links to all relevant information.
We are also keeping our online community directory up-to-date with information about community services and their availability during lockdown. Please note that you can change the filter for the community directory to just search in your area. This information can be used both for individuals but also for organisations looking for information to help clients.
We wish you all the best over the coming days as we start to navigate what shifting to alert level 3 will look like. Check out our website where we will continue to provide updated content and don’t hesitate to contact our service by freephone 0800 367 222 or online.
Nga mihi nui ki a koutou katoa
The team at Citizens Advice Bureau New Zealand
Taku pou whakawhirinaki i ngā wā o te porotaika
My source of strength in moments of adversity.
We have over 2,000 Q&As covering a wide range of issues, including Covid-19…