Commercial ratepayers can now apply for financial hardship status

Published: 29 May 2020 2:53pm

Wagga Wagga City Council has agreed to temporarily amend Council’s Financial Hardship Policy allowing more people to apply and making the application process easier.

Commercial ratepayers can now join residential ratepayers in applying to Council for financial hardship status for any property owned within the Wagga Wagga Local Government Area.

Ratepayers will be considered eligible:

  • if they have qualified for the Government’s JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments
  • if their tenant has qualified for the JobKeeper payment
  • if they can demonstrate that their property has become vacant as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic
  • if they can provide evidence that more than a 30 per cent rent reduction has been provided to their tenant.

Corporate Services Director Natalie Te Pohe said Council had worked to simplify the application process, advising that ratepayers could apply for a two-year payment plan right up until the 27 September – the Government’s current JobKeeper payment end date.

“Some people won’t need the full two years,” Ms Te Pohe said.

“Many are only seeking a payment arrangement for their current rates instalment, but that may change.

“We’re making it as flexible as we can. We’re not waiving rates or charges – Council isn’t able to do that on a large scale. What we are doing is offering ratepayers a payment plan and waiving any associated interest.

“We’re also suspending some of our regular debt recovery actions. We know people are hurting and we’re doing everything in our power to help.”

Wagga Wagga Business Chamber Vice President Caleb Richards welcomed the news, saying opening the policy to commercial ratepayers would help ease the pressure felt by local business owners.

“We’re really pleased that Council has included commercial properties in its hardship policy, because so many businesses are going to need help working their way back to financial stability,” Mr Richards said.

“It’s going to be a long road and any assistance to help our businesses now and as we recover is critical.”

The temporary amendments will be applied retrospectively to rates due from 31 March 2020 to 27 September 2020.

Ratepayers can visit or call 1300 292 442 for more information.