Beneficiary Advisory Service Fact Sheet

We were set up in 1992 to promote interests of people on benefits and low incomes.

We are registered as a Charitable Trust (since 1995) under the name of the Christchurch Peoples Resource Centre and registered with the Charities Commission in 2008.

Our workers, both paid and voluntary, are drawn from this group and derive a wide range of skills and opportunities through the work they do. Our organisation also reflects the ethnic diversity of our clients, as our workers are of European/Pakeha, Maori and Pacific descent.

Our primary service is to provide individual advocacy to people experiencing problems in the benefit system.

The issues range from simple entitlement questions to complex legal issues.

We deal with many of the Reviews in Christchurch and a help prepare cases for the Social Security Appeal Authority. People who are faced with an accusation of benefit fraud are invariable referred to us. The Community Law Centre and other community groups refer all or most social security cases to us.

We have around 4000 client contacts per year and we have clients from all over the country. At any one time, we would be working intensively working with around 50 -100 clients plus an average of 4 new client calls per day. This would involve representation at hearings, direct negotiation with the Ministry of Social Development etc.

We essentially receive no guaranteed core funding. The role we have fits nowhere within the framework of more substantial community funding or the contractual funding available. We do not charge for our services as typically, our clients are drawn from the least resourced and most vulnerable sectors of society and even a small charge may preclude or provide a disincentive to the use of our service.

Our referrals come from all the major agencies and a wide range of non-community sources.

We are unique as a service in terms of a combination of perspective, knowledge and skills.

We are recognised by the media, Government agencies, educational institutions, community groups and health professionals as being a primary source for information and advice on welfare and low income issues.

Our primary impact on the low income community is to provide a watchdog and advocacy role usually with a direct financial outcome for the person together with increased confidence and personal esteem.