Budgeting service in demand

The Central Otago Budgeting Service has recorded a four-year high in the number of people seeking its help and says most of its clients are employed but still struggling to make ends meet.

The service, which covers all of Central Otago, Queenstown and Wanaka, gained 250 new clients in the past year.

"Beneficiaries seem to be managing OK because they are used to managing on a limited income, but most of our clients actually have jobs and they're still struggling because wages aren't going up enough to meet the increased cost of living," service manager Pam Hughes, of Alexandra, said.

"What we're seeing is people mostly aged 35 and older and some are on good incomes," Mrs Hughes said.

"But some have had cuts in their work hours, or relied on overtime to top up their income and that overtime's not available now."

On top of the new clients, the service had 58 clients it had carried over from the previous year who were still getting budgeting advice. The number of clients was a four-year high for the service, she said.

The service had nine volunteer budget advisers and two paid staff.

Mrs Hughes said the level of client indebtedness varied from case to case.

"I'm not saying we don't see beneficiaries, but the ones we deal with are new beneficiaries as opposed to long-term ones," she said.


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