We take what we learn from serving individual clients into the broader social policy arena, and to use it to advocate for socially just policies and services in Aotearoa New Zealand. We do this both proactively and in response to consultations from government.
Some of the issues we are currently focused on include:
- better security of tenure for renters;
- better quality rental housing;
- employment agreements for all;
- adequate supply of decent emergency accommodation
Our recent submissions include :
You can read older submissions on our archived submissions page.
Submission on the proposed Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy (December 2018)
We support the development of a Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy. In our submission, we advocated for a collaborative approach to actions that will ensure the vision and outcomes are achieved, and identified the need for additional information to be provided on how each of the focus areas proposed for the strategy will be operationalized and supported fiscally to ensure there is real change in both policy and practice. We recommended changes to two of the focus areas.
Submission to the Welfare Expert Advisory Group (November 2018)
We told the Welfare Expert Advisory Group about some aspects of the welfare system CABs see are not working well for our clients, and provided some ideas for improvements.
Submission on the Review of the Minimum Wage (November 2018)
The coalition government has committed to increasing the minimum wage to $20 by 2021. We advised that increasing the minimum wage to the target rate of $20 per hour immediately would make a substantial difference to many New Zealanders and contribute to meeting the government’s priority of improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families.
Submission on the Reform of the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (October 2018)
We support the aims of the proposed tenancy law reform, which are to improve tenants’ security and stability while protecting landlords’ interests and to ensure that the law appropriately balances the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords.
Our current rental environment is far from balanced. Tenants regularly come to our service with questions about their rights and identify the challenges in giving effect to these. Common concerns raised by clients are the poor condition of their housing, lack of responsiveness by landlords to addressing maintenance issues, terminations of tenancy without proper notice, unaffordable rent increases, and harsh terms and conditions relating to fixed term tenancies.
In this submission we use insights from our client enquiries to respond to the detailed questions in the discussion document. Our hope is that the law is reformed to make life better for renters and fairer and more balanced for everyone.
Submission on the Healthy Homes Standards (October 2018)
The CAB responds to over 14,000 enquiries related to renting issues each year; many of these are from tenants who are living in poor quality rental properties. Damp, cold, mouldy housing is a common issue of concern as well as difficulties getting repairs and maintenance work carried out.
Our submission reinforced the need for standards that ensure every person can live in a warm, dry and secure home and that these standards are clear and able to be consistently applied so that both landlords and tenants understand what is required.
We also used insights from our client enquiries to highlight the importance of having a compliance system that shifts the onus for raising concerns away from the tenant who may be reluctant to complain or feel very vulnerable doing so.
Submission on Review of Consumer Credit Regulation (August 2018)
This submission identified that despite the consumer credit reforms which came into effect in June 2015 our clients are still experiencing numerous issues related to irresponsible lending behaviour. We argue that there needs to be a considerable strengthening of the enforcement of the law, and that the way the Act is currently framed creates unnecessary barriers for consumers whose rights have been breached.
Submission on Credit Reporting Privacy Code Amendment No. 14 (August 2018)
Given the importance that people’s credit records can play in their ability to access credit we consider there should be as few barriers as possible in relation to people accessing their own credit information, including financial barriers. Most of the clients that we see only seek information about their credit record because they have either been denied access to credit or have been required to take extra steps to obtain credit. In these situations clients want to get access to their credit information as quickly as they can, and they should be able to access this information in a quick and easy manner and we support the proposed amendments to enable this.
CABNZ submission for the Mental Health & Addiction Inquiry (June 2018)
We recognise that the ultimate goal of the Government Inquiry is to improve the mental health and addiction outcomes of New Zealanders. A clear message from the stories of our clients and the reflections of our volunteers and staff is that a major area of current failure is the inadequacy of resourcing of mental health and addiction services across our country. We hope that an outcome of the Inquiry will ultimately be increased support for frontline services.
CABNZ submission on Local Government (community well-being) Amendment Bill 2018 (May 2018)
The Citizens Advice Bureau strongly supports this bill to reinstate local government’s role as a promoter of present and future social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing. We have a particular interest in this, as the CAB in New Zealand has played a key and fundamental role in supporting community well-being in long standing partnerships with local government.
Residential Tenancies (Prohibiting Letting Fees) Amendment Bill (May 2018)
We support the proposed amendments to prohibit the charging of letting fees or similar costs to people who are renting. We see this as a first step in a larger programme of necessary reform in the rental sector to redress the significant power imbalance between tenants and landlords. We think the Bill does not go far enough though, and recommend that the law also prohibits landlords from imposing charges when consenting to the tenant assigning, subletting or parting with possession of a tenancy.
Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Bill (May 2018)
We support the amendments proposed by this Bill because we believe the provisions will provide for greater fairness and protection to workers, sending a clear signal that the structure of workplace relationships should not be used to avoid providing fair work terms or to deprive those workers of particular conditions and rights that those in direct employment expect as a minimum.
The Bill proposes that employees employed by one employer, but working under the control and direction of another business or organisation, have the right to coverage of a collective agreement operating in that workplace, and that such employees have access to appropriate remedies for unfair treatment and breaches of their rights by being able to join the secondary employer to a personal grievance action.
CABNZ Submission to the Tax Working Group - April 2018
CABNZ Submission to the Tax Working Group on the Future of TaxEveryone has a right to an adequate standard of living yet we have people living in our country who are experiencing poverty, homelessness and deprivation. Many of these people come to the CAB for help. We used this opportunity to assert that people who are struggling to make ends meet either need more income or reduced costs. We encouraged the Tax Working Group to test each and every option they are considering against this goal.
CABNZ Submission on Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Advice Services - April 2018
This submission focused on some of the proposed high level approach for the Code of Professional Conduct for Financial Advice Services. The submission focused on a few key points, namely:
- The need for the Code to be as easy to understand as possible for consumers, including giving a full understanding of their rights under the code and legislation.
- The need for the Code to adopt a more client centred approach rather than process centred.
- The need for the Code to have a clear and universal statement of ethics.
- That a ban on conflicted remuneration would be an effective means of reinforcing good behaviour
Submission on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill (March 2018)
This submission focusses on proposed changes to the provisions for 90 day trials, and increased clarity about entitlements to meal and rest breaks. In general we support the proposed changes but identify issues with how 90 day trial periods are working for a wide range of our clients. We think research is needed on the impact of 90-day trial periods, from both the perspective of employees and employers and we question the efficacy of measures to address non-compliance with the proposed changes.
Submission on the Law Commission’s Review of the Property (Relationships) Act 1976 (February 2018)
In this submission we identify the challenges and barriers faced by people trying to resolve relationship property matters outside court (access to information about rights and responsibilities, support to navigate the process, cost as a barrier to accessing legal advice and assistance and options for resolution without the involvement of lawyers or the court) and we make recommendations of potential solutions to these issues.
Submission on Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill (February 2018)
In this submission we argue that New Zealand should follow the examples set by Australia and the UK, and introduce a ban on all forms of conflicted remuneration (commissions and other payments that might unduly influence the advice given) in the financial advice sector.
Spotlight on CAB Clients without an Employment Agreement (September 2017)
We undertook an in-depth analysis of enquiries from clients who came to us with an employment issue between December 2016 and May 2017. We found that 473 of these people did not have a written employment agreement, even though this is a fundamental requirement of New Zealand’s employment law.
We also found that many of those people were subjected to other breaches of their minimum employment rights, eg, being dismissed without fair process, not being paid for work done, having the terms and conditions of their employment changed without negotiation.
Our report identifies several steps that could help employers ensure they are meeting their obligations, and help employees be able to get their rights upheld without fear of negative repercussions from their employer.
Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) (August 2017)
We made a submission on the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No. 2) which focuses on three issues:
- liability for damage to rental premises caused by a tenant,
- methamphetamine contamination in rental premises, and
- tenancies over rental premises that are unlawful for residential use.
In this submission we reiterate our position that good quality rental housing and security of tenure are cornerstones of a fair and well-balanced rental market. We express concern that the proposed amendments set out in the Bill do not deal with the fundamental and concerning issues relating to residential tenancies in New Zealand and that they may in fact result in greater disadvantage to vulnerable tenants. In our submission we recommend that more time is taken to do the necessary research and to carry out the appropriate consultation to ensure that the approach to liability for careless damage and to methamphetamine testing in rental properties is well-informed and provides fair and transparent outcomes for tenants and landlords. We also make a number of recommendations in relation to specific clauses of the Bill.
CABNZ submission on Consultation Paper New Financial Advice Regime (March 2017)
We made a brief submission to MBIE on the draft Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill and Proposed Transitional Arrangements. We recommended that the draft Bill be amended to strengthen the obligation of financial advisers to put clients’ interests first. We also questioned the length of the proposed transition period from the old regime to the new one and recommended that the transitional arrangements include a campaign to make consumers aware that the new regime does not fully take effect until the transitional period is over, and to provide them with a list of key questions to put to advisers during the transition period.
Submission on Proposals for Modernising the Tax Administration Act (February 2017)
This is our fourth submission on Inland Revenue’s extensive Making Tax Simpler project and focuses mainly on the issues of data-collection and sharing. Citing the four Principles which were identified by the New Zealand Data Futures Forum to be the basis for a trusted data-use environment - Value, Inclusion, Trust and Control - we encourage Inland Revenue to assess all of its proposals to increase data collection and/or sharing against these four Principles.
We express our concern that the recent initiative by the Ministry of Social Development to collect Individual Client Level Data through contracts with NGOs seems to run counter to these Principles, and creates an environment that could be seen as coercive, rather than facilitating trust and informed consent.
We highlight the urgent need for clear standards and guidelines which will ensure that the Data Futures Forum Principles are adhered to by all government agencies.
Submission on Section 99(1A) of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (November 2016)
We made a submission on a proposal to amend the consequences for lenders making inadequate disclosure under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. The proposal would have the impact of reducing the financial liability for lenders who don’t comply with the minimum disclosure requirements relating to their lending. We argued that there was insufficient evidence to support a proposal which would effectively reduce consumer protection by weakening the incentives for lenders to comply with the law.
Submission on Review of Class 4 gambling
In this submission we challenge New Zealand’s model of funding community groups from the proceeds of gambling. We recommend that the Department of Internal Affairs widen the terms of reference of the current review of Class 4 gambling to include:
- consideration of whether the practice of funding community groups from the proceeds of Class 4 gambling is fit-for-purpose
- an in-depth investigation of other models for funding our community sector, with a view to identifying those that are both sustainable and ethically sound
Submission on Incorporated Societies Bill (June 2016)
The Incorporated Societies Act 1908 is more than 100 years old and needs updating to be relevant and useful for groups using this legal structure in today’s conditions. This is very relevant for the CAB as an organisation that is made up of independent incorporated societies, each being members of CABNZ, which is also an incorporated society.
In this submission we make the following key points:
- The revised Act must be sufficiently flexible to support the diversity of ways different societies operate.
- The revised Act needs to be easy to read and understand.
- The sector is likely to need support to implement changes required by this legislation. We recommend that, alongside the work being done on the legislation, consideration be given to how societies can best be supported to run as effectively as possible.
- We support the requirement that an incorporated society’s constitution include mechanisms for resolving problems and disputes within the society but it is important that the legislation allow for the detail of these procedures to be held outside the constitution to ensure that entities are able to establish policies to address the specifics of their structure.
- When disputes are not able to be resolved internally we do not think the courts are the appropriate mechanism, as a next step, for enforcing a society’s constitution or resolving disputes. We would like to see something akin to the services available in the employment area, such as a free mediation service for disputes or grievances involving members of an incorporated society, or between members and the society.
Please note, whatever the final form of the Incorporated Societies Act, there is a very lengthy implementation timeframe:
- A revised Bill based on submissions received will be introduced into Parliament in 2017.
- After the new Bill is passed, it is intended that current incorporated societies will have up to four years to amend their rules to ensure they comply with the requirements of the new Act.
- It will be at least four years from the date of enactment before the new Act is fully brought into effect. This may well be in 2022
Submission on Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (June 2016)
We see this Bill as an opportunity to further improve living conditions and security of tenure for the growing number of renters in New Zealand. We argue for a comprehensive warrant of fitness regime for rental homes and the establishment of an independent agency to monitor and enforce standards of habitation. We also call for the removal of the option for a landlord to give a tenant 42 days’ notice.
Submission on Options Paper: Review of the Financial Advisers Act 2008 and the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008 (February 2016)
In this submission we argue for much higher ethical and competency standards for the group currently known as Registered Financial Advisers (RFA’s).
We also reiterate the recommendations we made in our submission of 22 July 2015:
- a clear distinction between sales and advice;
- a ban on commissions and other forms of conflicted remuneration;
- less emphasis on disclosure as a key means of consumer protection;
- the establishment of one neutral disputes resolution body to deal with all disputes between consumers and Financial Service Providers.
Submission on Making Tax Simpler discussion papers (February 2016)
This submission is made in response to two consultations from Inland Revenue on the on-going Tax Simplification project:
- Making Tax Simpler – better administration of PAYE and GST
- Making Tax Simpler – towards a New Tax Administration Act
We highlighted the issue of employees discovering that their employer has not been making PAYE deductions and recommended that employers be required by law to issue payslips.
We made comment on the proposal to send taxpayers pre-populated returns, stressing the need for it to be easy to amend the pre-populated information and to communicate with IR to discuss the information.
In addition, we reiterated points previously made about clients at risk of digital exclusion and the need for a robust process for putting things right, when they go wrong.
Submission on the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (January 2016)
In this submission we hold that good quality rental housing and secure tenancies are cornerstones of a fair and well-balanced rental market. We support the measures in the Bill to require landlords to install smoke alarms and insulation and argue for a warrant of fitness as the best means of enforcement.
We also support the strengthened provisions to discourage retaliatory terminations proposed in the Bill as well as the move to increase the powers of the Chief Executive of MBIE to take action in cases of breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA).
Finally, based on what our enquiries are revealing, we ask the Committee to consider amending the RTA to remove the option for a landlord to give 42 days’ notice in certain circumstances.