Council provides additional help
Friday 29 June 2012
Council is to provide a partial rates rebate to those residents facing financial hardship.
The scheme is limited in its scope, but will include elderly who have a “licence to occupy” an apartment or unit in a local retirement village.
The idea was canvassed during consultation on the Draft Long Term Plan and specific references to licensed occupiers in retirement villages was added following submissions from Grey Power and the Council of Older Persons.
It also follows undertakings given by Council during the Charging Regime Advisory Group’s investigations into a suitable charging regime for water meters, to provide extra support where appropriate.
Under the rates remission – financial hardship scheme, $100,000 will be available in 2012/13, $125,000 in 2013/14 and $200,000 in 2014/15, the first year of water meters.
The definition of “hardship” is tightly defined. It will be restricted to:
- residents whose sole income is from central government benefits, or where their income is at or below government benefit levels, and;
- where the expenditure on rates (after deducting the central government rebate) is more than 5% of the households’ after tax income.
The maximum rate remission is $300 p.a. for ratepayers. Tenants can also apply through their landlord. The maximum rate remission for those holding a Licence to Occupy in a retirement village is $150 as the rates per unit are lower for retirement villages than other residential properties in the community.
Council’s Group Manager Finance Warwick Read said qualifying residents must apply for the central government rate rebate first before applying for the Council rebate.
“Council has only allocated a certain amount of funding for this rebate, so applications will be considered on a case by case basis” focused on financial hardship. A plain English document laying out the application process and eligibility criteria would be available shortly.
Mr Read said it should be noted that Council’s rates remission policy for financial hardship was quite different to the government’s scheme “More than 2,300 qualify for the Government rates rebate scheme which is based on income thresholds, the number of dependants, and levels of both Kāpiti Coast District Council and Greater Wellington rates
“With an initial budget of $100,000, Council will specifically target cases of financial hardship as opposed to one of entitlement based on income thresholds etc.” Mr Read said the policy should be able to provide rates remissions for between 350 to 550 applications in the first year.
The policy would be actively promoted through budget advisors, social support agencies, Grey Power and retirement village managers and residents to ensure those who require rates remission as a result of financial hardship are aware of the policy and application process.
Rates Remission - Financial Hardship Policy (PDF, 4 pages, 44Kb)