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WELFARE CRUNCH

This week The News continues to look at how Covid-19 is affecting our community.

A Central Otago woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, chats to reporter Alexia Johnston after riding a rollercoaster of ups and downs since losing her job in the wake of the pandemic.

Slashed hours and redundancies are hurting — just ask the family of five down the road.
Mum was made redundant, dad had his hours cut from about 65 to 40, resulting in them losing half of their overall pre-Covid-19 income.

While they are OK and have managed to make ends meet so far, times are tough.
‘‘By the time we’ve paid our expenses for the week we’ve got $40 spare,’’ she said.

‘‘We’re surviving, but it depletes our savings account. It means when things like the car registration or things like that come up, you can’t just do it. You’ve got to plan for it.’’

She said while some people have been forced to cope in those situations before, for her family it was ‘‘all very new’’.

‘‘I know there’s lots of other people in this situation all the time, but for us it’s just a very unexpected learning curve.’’

She said they were grateful they did not have high rent.

‘‘We are very lucky we have great landlords, but it’s still an expense each week.’’

Their new sense of normal means there are no trips away with the children, like they had previously done, no special treats from the supermarket and no ‘‘popping up to Alexandra for a look around the shops’’.

The family, which lives outside the Alexandra boundary, has swapped its usual small, but local grocery store for one in town so they have more budget options to choose from.

They also walk places instead of driving the car, if possible.

Central Otago Budgeting Services has been vital in helping the family through by working out what financial entitlements they should be getting, including Working for Families.

‘‘It will help quite a lot. For the time he’s only working 40 hours it will make things a lot easier.’’

She said while the family had some savings, which had helped, there was not enough money coming in to replenish what they were taking from their account.

They plan to manage their money ‘‘differently’’ once they start earning more again.

Until now, it had been easy to be complacent, by spending money unnecessarily, like

buying lunch instead of making it.

‘‘You don’t realise how much it’s adding up until you don’t have the money.’’

She encourages people who were concerned about their situation to contact Central Otago Budgeting Services.

‘‘They know what you are entitled to, they are in a better position than you are to access the information and help,’’ she said.

‘‘They were great to deal with and they are lovely, lovely people.’’