Help navigating support systems

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Central Otago residents are urged to get a financial warrant of fitness as the nation continues to take a hit from the Covid-19 fallout.

In a first, Presbyterian Support Family Works and Central Otago Budgeting Services have joined forces to address pandemicrelated job losses and reduced hours across the district.
More are expected to follow.

To assist those affected now and into the future, Presbyterian Support Family Works budgeter Sandra O’Neill and Central Otago Budgeting Services manager/coordinator Pam Hughes encouraged people to call in for a financial warrant of fitness — sooner rather than later.

‘‘The message right throughout is you are better off to come and see us. We are here,’’ Mrs O’Neill said.
People should ‘‘come in early,’’ Mrs Hughes said.
‘‘We can’t emphasise that enough. Even if it’s just to have a conversation.’’

Both services, which are free, cover the Central Otago, Wanaka and Queenstown areas.
Their aim is to provide information and ascertain where individuals might be able to get support financially.
The key was for people to ‘‘have a conversation’’ with those who could help.

Mrs O’Neill said the effects of Covid-19 on employment were ‘‘kicking in’’.
Among those feeling the effects were people who had had their hours reduced, but lived rurally so still had to foot fuel bills just to get to work.
‘‘It’s exacerbating the situation.’’

Mrs Hughes said for many people, the situation was new territory.
‘‘A lot of those people . . . have never had to deal with the system. Some of them have never had a Work and Income number.’’

That was just one of many ways the services could assist: helping people put a plan in place, to work out what they could be entitled to and how to go about getting those entitlements.

– To find out more about the services on offer, email Pam Hughes at cobas@ach.org.nz or Sandra O’Neill on sandrao@psotago.org.nz.

BUDGET BREAKDOWN

How some people’s financial situations might look following Covid-19. Presbyterian Support Family Works and Central Otago Budgeting Services provides a breakdown of how finances might alter, based on what a person could be entitled to following redundancy or reduced hours.

CASE STUDY #1

Pre-Covid-19: A single person, living in Alexandra. Earns: $600 a week (gross). Works: a 40-hour week. Pays: $200 per week board. Post-Covid-19, after redundancy They could be entitled to:

– $490 (tax free) Covid-19 package, which they receive over 12 weeks, if they were previously working 30 or more hours a week. The package is offered between March 1 to October
30.
– Accommodation support, up to $80.
– Community Services Card.
– Other support.

CASE STUDY #2

Pre-Covid-19: A couple, both working in Alexandra. They did not receive anything from Work and Income, but received ‘‘a little bit’’ from the family tax credit because they have children. Post-Covid-19: She has returned to her normal working hours. He has been made redundant and received a ‘‘small’’ payout.
– Applying for the income relief payment of $490 per week. Through Work and Income they have applied for:
– Non-beneficiary accommodation supplement.
– Disability allowance.
– They have re-evaluated their IRD payment — because of the drop in wages they now meet the threshold for the in-work tax payment and family tax credit. Should look into their:
– Car loan clause to see if they have payment insurance.
– Personal bank loan due to hardship.
– Updating their CV and send to Work and Income to be added to its database. For more information visit: workandincome.govt.nz or phone 0800 5559-009.