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What closing the Citizens Advice Bureau will mean for Aucklanders

6 March, 2023 

Interview by Daniel Teunissen, adapted by Joe Wickins

Listen to the full interview

The area manager for Auckland’s Citizens Advice Bureau, Kate Anderson (pictured) is warning that vulnerable Aucklanders won't have anywhere to go if the Auckland Council cuts its funding. Photo supplied by the Citizens Advice Bureau.

The Auckland Council is proposing to significantly cut or even remove all funding from Citizens Advice Bureaus (CABs) in Tāmaki Makaurau. 

This could result in the complete closure of the service in the city. 

Auckland’s 32 CABs provide free, confidential, and independent information and advice to anyone who needs help regarding their rights and how to access the services they need. 

Closing the Bureau would save $2m, however the Public Service Association (PSA) are urging the Coucil to keep the CABs open.

The area manager for Auckland’s CABs, Kate Anderson, told Daniel Teunissen on 95bFM’s The Wire that the service will likely close if council funding is cut.

The CAB has been around for 52 years, and local government funding has always been available. 

Anderson said the CAB is a service for vulnerable people with nowhere else to go, and its purpose is to help people find the answers or navigate their way through some of life's challenges.

“If you use the example of the recent floods, we had people coming to us to find somewhere else to stay temporarily, help them find some kai, support them with filling out their insurance—our volunteers are trained to help with anything that might turn up.”

Action Station Aotearoa has launched a petition to save the Bureau by highlighting why it should be funded and communicating its value.

“For the Auckland Council, it costs $2m to support 163,000 people, it’s a very cost effective service,” said Anderson. 

According to a recent report from Impact Lab, annually, this $2m in funding gives a potential return of $26.4m. 

Anderson said that cutting funding to the CAB will potentially cost the Auckland Council more long term. 

“Where are people going to go if they need help? Libraries aren’t trained to help, they don’t have time. The council's call centres will be overloaded.”

“It may cost the Auckland Council more but it will certainly cost our communities more.”

Anderson said a critical service the Bureau provides is support for renters. 

“When someone comes to them with a tenancy issue, they can help them stay at their current property or find a new one. If they can’t get that kind of help, then people become homeless. How do you value that?”

Anderson is encouraging people to sign their petition to save Auckland's CABs and to have your say on Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown’s Auckland Council budget proposal. 

The Auckland Council's 2023/2024 budget is open for public consultation until 11pm on March 28.

Get Action! w/ Action Station Aotearoa is a segment on The Wire where we chat with people campaigning for a fairer future.

Public interest journalism funded by NZ On Air