NSBS welcomed a visit by National Party leader Christopher Luxon and members of the media to shine a light on the important work we do in delivering financial mentoring to the community, and directly improving the lives of Kiwis suffering from the cost of living crisis.
“It was a privilege to visit NSBS, a financial mentoring non-profit in Takapuna, and meet CEO Drew Glucina and some of their clients today,” Mr Luxon said.
“I sat down with a couple who are staying in transitional housing, have one toddler and a baby on the way. They’re ambitious, have big dreams and want to get ahead but right now they can’t,” the National Party leader said.
Mr Luxon met NSBS clients Esther and Vanu Rea, who are proud parents of an 18-month-old son and a baby due next month.
The young Pacific Island couple are struggling in this cost of living crisis, despite having a fulltime job as a retail manager and being cautious with their income. Food is too expensive and rent prohibitive, and they worry how they will manage to get by.
Mr Luxon took time to meet with the young couple and their NSBS mentor, Nick Handey, who explained how he is helping Esther and Vanu build a solid financial future for their growing family.
He also met the team of financial mentors at NSBS and listened to their stories about the wide variety of clients who really struggling in the cost of living crisis.
He toured the NSBS offices at the Mary Thomas Centre, where for 31 years, the organisation has provided free, confidential, non-judgemental, and personalised financial mentoring and advocacy services that empowers and enables New Zealanders and their whānau to become more financially capable.
Mr Luxon heard how, in the last two years, the number of financial mentor numbers at NSBS has swelled. The charity has expanded the number of full-time and volunteer financial mentors to meet the demand for our services from clients who are suffering from the cost of living crisis. He learnt that mentoring sessions are provided one-on-one and in-person at NSBS’s Takapuna office, or virtually via Zoom call; and available six days a week, including Saturdays, and after-hours each weekday evening to keep up with demand.
NSBS CEO Drew Glucina told Mr Luxon the increased number in mentoring sessions – up fourfold – is due to the number of new clients who now come from all walks of life.
“NSBS has experienced unprecedented demand for financial mentoring from individuals and whānau,” Ms Glucina said. “And that increased demand illustrates that we are needed, valued and warranted.”
She added: “Our clients represent all aspects of society. They come to us for a lifeline because they are struggling with a high level of debt. The cost of living crisis and the rise in inflation and food costs has severely impacted budgets across the country, and many of our clients are enduring financial hardship and stress while struggling to manage debt.”
NSBS mentors help clients identify their goals and develop a strengths-based financial plan and best debt solutions. They advocate and negotiate on their clients’ behalf with creditors to reduce debt, set budgets, and provide ongoing support to improve outcomes.
NSBS sets budgets and savings plans and delivers financial specialist intervention services such as Debt Repayment Order, Insolvency Procedure, No Asset Procedure and Bankruptcy, and KiwiSaver Hardship Applications. Clients come from all over New Zealand – and abroad. NSBS delivers financial capability services to expat Kiwis in Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina and Ukraine.
At the NSBS offices, Mr Luxon told waiting media, including journalists from TVNZ, TV3, NZ Herald, RNZ, Stuff and other media outlets, that he is committed to reducing the cost of living for New Zealanders.
The cost of living for the average household increased 7.7% in the 12 months to March 2023. This follows an 8.2% increase in the 12 months to December 2022. Higher prices for interest payments, grocery food, rent and fruit and vegetables were the main contributors to this increase. Inflation is at a three-decade high, and interest rate hikes have endured a long stretch, ensuring the cost of living is one of the central matters on which next month’s election will be decided.
Mr Luxon said the National party’s Back Pocket Boost policy could assist young couples like Esther and Vanu, which would deliver tax relief of up to $100 per fortnight for an average income household, plus a FamilyBoost childcare tax credit of up to $150 per fortnight.
The Labour government has pledged a package of measures, including removing taxes from fresh fruits and vegetables and expanding free dental care to include people aged under 30, and removing charges for prescription medicines.
For Ms Glucina, a global leader in financial literacy, the demand for financial mentoring services is not ebbing anytime soon.