CAB’s revolving door

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Queenstown’s Citizens Advice Bureau fielded enquiries, complaints and cries for help from a staggering 4363 clients last financial year. 

Among the large client list were 387 employees and employers, and 223 tenants and landlords. 

The total client count was almost unchanged from the previous year’s 4485 – which was in turn almost identical to 2008. 

Despite CAB being such a vital community cog, its funding fortunes ebb and flow – the group posted an operating loss of $4501 last financial year. 

Funding officer Justine Cranfield points out this was due to a quirk of timing in Central Lakes Trust’s $12,500 grant, which flipped into the following financial year. 

As well as CLT, other major CAB supporters are the Lotteries Commission ($3500), Central Otago Grants Scheme ($2300), Community Trust of Southland ($2214) and SkyCity Queenstown Casino Trust ($3305). 

Cranfield says CAB is “finding it quite a challenge to make ends meet in the present financial climate”. 

CAB chairman John Bitcheno says the recession is biting somewhat. 

“Obviously, we have to fight for every dollar like every other organisation in our position. 

“But in terms of our overall position, [the operating loss] is not significant and we’re pretty happy with where we’re at,” he says. 

According to CAB, by far the most cases – 1517 – fell into a category labelled “general information, services and activities”. 

Another 900 cases were categorised “transport, motor vehicles, travel/tourism and immigration” – followed by 368 business- and employment-related cases and another 369 related to “legal, justice, human rights and consumer law”. 

Local lawyers working on a pro bono basis saw 229 clients over confidential matters. 

Queenstown councillor Cath Gilmour continues to run her “community clinic … providing a contact point between councillors and the public”, CAB says. 

Twelve new volunteer advisors joined the local group during its 2010 year.