Covid-19 – What’s happening with Rates?
Since the change in Covid-19 alert to level 4 the Council has begun receiving queries from residents regarding rates.
The fourth instalment for the year to June is coming up and we know the timing will be of concern to some people – especially those who are facing an uncertain financial future.
Covid-19 has quickly changed the operating environment for business globally and Councils are no exception.
Council is continuing to work hard ensuring essential services are effectively delivered and maintained across the District.
Essential services are the ones that keep people healthy and safe. They ensure households have safe drinking water, that waste water systems keeps operating, rubbish is collected, burials can take place, essential roading and safety repairs are made, emergency services (Civil Defence) are on hand, and flood protection is being monitored. Council staff and after hours phone services means we are available 24/7 to respond to service queries.
Your rates are what pays for these staff and services to keep operating.
While we cannot make changes to the rates struck in this current year, there are two things we are doing.
Firstly, there are alternative arrangements available for rates payments that are due that might help in the short-term. Options are:
- To set up a direct debit to spread your payment equally over the instalment period or beyond if necessary.
- Consider reducing the frequency of an existing direct debit to make smaller more regular payments.
- Reduce the amount of your direct debit temporarily until your situation improves.
- If you think you might qualify for a rates rebate if your income was below $25,660 in 18/19 tax year. If your income was greater than $25,660 you may still be eligible for a pro-rata rebate, contact the Rates Officer to discuss your options.
- Investigate other forms of financial assistance that may be available such as, talking to your bank.
- For options around rates postponement, contact the Rates Officer.
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0800 474 834 if you would like to talk more about this or discuss a payment plan – we want to help. More information is also available on our rates page.
The Government has provided a large package to support people’s incomes, including working with banks to provide mortgage holidays. People who have lost their jobs or are on reduced incomes may also qualify for the Accommodation Supplement through Work and Income.
Please do not just stop paying your rates or cancel your direct debit. If rates are not paid then our recovery will be slower, more painful and likely more expensive next year if we are to maintain essential infrastructure and be ready to open up facilities and services as soon as possible after restrictions reduce.
Secondly, we are looking closely at our budgets in the Draft Annual Plan 2020/21 (the document which sets budgets and in turn rates for the coming year) to see if there are any changes we can make to defer projects or reduce spending to bring any increases to as low a level as possible.
The Council has a joint role to play here in both:
- Making sure any rate increases are as low as possible
- Investing locally in infrastructure projects that have positive flow on effects to contractors, suppliers and in turn stimulate Westland’s economy and job growth.
These revised changes in budget, as well as all public feedback, will be provided to the Council before setting the rates for the coming year.
The community is very much at the centre of the Council’s decision making process and we will be in regular touch with more information about this as the emergency situation develops.
Phone: 0800 474 834