CAB fights proposal that could see its Auckland offices axed

A group of dedicated volunteers is taking on Auckland Council over its proposed budget cuts that could see 32 Citizens Advice Bureaux shut all across the city.

The CAB has been a vital source of information for many Aucklanders dealing with storm damage this week. But it's facing closure as the council looks to cut its forecast $295m budget deficit.

The CAB team, many of whom are volunteers, has swung into battle mode, launching a petition, and flying its chief executive up from Wellington to attend a board meeting today, where they discussed how to ensure council recognises its value.

The organisation is nationwide, and offers free, confidential advice to anyone in need, via phone, online, or in person.

Chief executive Kerry Dalton said it's devastating to hear the council consider cutting the service completely. "[It's] been supporting people in Auckland for 50 years. Last year we helped with 163,000 clients, that's 650 clients every working day of the year."

Mount Roskill CAB manager Tess Porter said the aftermath of the storm has made it clear how vital the service is.

"People don't even know where to start, they don't necessarily feel that well supported," she said. "So we've been dealing with people who got to remove flood-damaged goods. We've got people who are having trouble getting hold of their insurance companies, we've had a couple of people looking for places to donate."

While she understood the pressure the local government body was under, she hoped it would see the value providing a free face-to-face community service.

"I do hope that support for grassroots community services is something they can manage to sustain, because that is what Auckland is, a collection of community organisations and networks that work together to help people out."

1News asked the mayor if given the role the CAB had played this week in helping Aucklanders, if it would reconsider the proposal to reduce or cut the service's funding. A spokesperson from the mayor's office said it could not confirm any changes to the proposal.

"We can not confirm any changes to the mayoral proposal or items for public consultation as we are in the midst of an emergency response. However, we appreciate that Aucklanders may be seeking clarification at this time."


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