Delivering community-focussed, city-wide support plan – Wollongong

Wollongong City Council will deliver a range of assistance measures for ratepayers, businesses, community organisations, our creative community and tenants of Council-owned properties who have been impacted by COVID-19.

The wide-ranging assistance package was considered at its Council meeting tonight, Monday 2 August 2021, and is focussed on supporting those who are experiencing disadvantage and significant hardship as a result of COVID-19.

The package builds on a range of successful measures that were implemented, or remain underway, since early 2020 in response to the pandemic.

“These are challenging times for many people in our community, particularly as a result of the lockdown restrictions that have been in place since early July his year. There is no one-size-fits all response to the support our community needs,” Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said.

“We know this is a difficult and uncertain time for our community and we’re particularly aware of the need for support for our residents who are most disadvantaged by COVID-19.

“The package of support offers a wide range of opportunities for us to take the lead and support businesses and their operations. It recognises our creative industries have been hit hard by the lockdown, and offers a helping hand to those residents and ratepayers who have seen their work and circumstances affected by the pandemic.

“These assistance measures set out a sound and diverse plan to support our community at this time. It will put in place steps that will assist our community to recover as we move beyond this phase and into a post-COVID climate.”

Council’s COVID-19 Assistance for Community and Business measures include 12 additional areas of support for residents and ratepayers, businesses, sporting organisations, and creative industries. This is on top of the existing measures in place. Additional support measures include;

  • Set a 0% interest rate on overdue rates and charges for the 2021-2022 first instalment until 30 November 2021, allowing those in need an opportunity to defer payment of the first rate instalment without penalty until that date.
  • Allow all ratepayers who are still facing financial difficulty due to COVID-19 beyond November 2021 to discuss further rate deferral opportunities with Council.
  • Allocate $200,000 for small grants to local and experienced not-for-profit organisations to support their delivery of emergency food supply and general care packages for residents experiencing significant hardship.
  • Allocate $60,000 to a Quick Response Grants Program for Community Programs
  • Waive 2-hour parking fees at targeted off-street locations until 31 December 2021.
  • Offer support to sporting groups who meet an eligibility criteria by waiving fees for the use of facilities for training and competition for 1 July 2021-31 December 2021.
  • Waive fees between 1 July 2021-31 December 2021 for fitness trainers, swim and surf schools.
  • Licensees of community facilities, who meet eligibility criteria, will be able to apply for up to $5,000 financial support for essential outgoings.
  • Waiving outdoor dining fees across the Local Government Area between 1 July 2021-30 June 2022.
  • Provide rental waivers and deferrals to eligible commercial Council tenants from 1 July 2021-31 December 2021.
  • Waive first annual inspection and administration fees for food and personal grooming businesses between 1 July 2021-30 June 2022.
  • Develop a program of assistance, including a buy local campaign, extended outdoor dining initiatives and support for creative industries.

Cr Bradbery said Council had focussed on delivering a range of measures that offered opportunities for a wide cross section of the community from across the city who had been adversely impacted by COVID-19.

“Our fiscally responsible approach to Council operations has meant we are in a position to be able to make these changes to Council’s budget to support our community at this challenging time and continue to deliver the vital services, renewal of assets and ongoing infrastructure program for the wellbeing of our community,” Cr Bradbery said.

“These measures will provide welcome relief to those doing it tough. It’s important we get this right because the steps we take now to support our residents, businesses and creatives will pave the way through to a stronger, more robust community on the other side of this pandemic.”

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