Council extends support for ratepayers experiencing financial hardship

Ratepayers still struggling to pay their rates due to financial hardships may be eligible to enter a staggered repayment plan under a new rates hardship policy adopted by Council today.

Mayor Peter Flannery said this was about affording people a little time if that’s all they need to get on top of their bills, which has become increasingly important in the wake of COVID-19.

“I said at the start of this pandemic that we didn’t want anyone slipping through the cracks,” he said.

“Implementing a permanent rates hardship policy today will help do exactly that.

“Economic recovery may be happening faster than expected, but there are plenty of people starting to feel the pinch as other government assistance programs end.

“The last thing I want in our region is for families not to have roofs over their heads.

“This policy sets out how we can identify ratepayers experiencing financial hardship due to an unexpected event or unforeseen changes, and provide them with assistance to meet those payments.

“For recipients of this assistance, we will relax the usual penalties and ongoing collection activities so that they can enter a payment plan to pay off their outstanding rates and charges over an agreed period of time.

“Generally, the support will only be offered to residential property owners living in their home and the maximum period of support is twelve months.

“In extenuating circumstances, eligible ratepayers still experiencing financial hardship may apply for support for a second period of up to twelve months, but the maximum period of support is two years per instance of financial hardship.”

In May 2020 Moreton Bay Regional Council adopted a range of support measures to assist ratepayers having difficulty paying rates or charges, including:

  • The suspension of interest on overdue rates and charges for the period 1 April to 30 September 2020.
  • The ability for ratepayers who are experiencing financial difficulty to enter into a payment plan to pay off their outstanding rates.
  • The suspension of collection activities in relation to overdue rates and charges for the period 1 April to 30 September 2020.

At the General Meeting of 16 September 2020 (page 20/1722) Council resolved to extend these support arrangements for a further six months for the period 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021.

Yesterday’s unanimous vote in favour of the new the Rates and Charges – Financial Hardship Policy (2150-113) means this policy will be implemented as a permanent policy.

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