Council announces community and business relief measures

Published on 14 April 2020

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Lake Macquarie City Council has announced a package of measures aimed at supporting the Lake Mac community and local businesses through the COVID-19 emergency.

The support package, endorsed by Council at Tuesday’s extraordinary meeting, includes scaled rental relief for businesses leasing Council premises for a period of up to six months and updates to Council’s Financial Hardship Assistance Policy.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser reaffirmed Council’s commitment to doing what it could to ease the economic impact of COVID-19 on the community and businesses locally.

“COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we live. We continue to work through this together, but there are sections of our community and businesses that are hurting. This relief package is one way that Council can help soften some of the impacts and make life a little bit easier for people,” said Cr Fraser.

Lake Macquarie City Council’s community and business support measures to be introduced include:

  • A scaled commercial rent relief program that reduces or waives up to 100% of rent owed to Council by eligible business for a period of up-to six months.
  • A rent relief program for Council’s residential tenants that provides a 50% waiver on rent for tenants significantly impacted by the COVID-19 emergency for a period of up-to six months.
  • Financial Hardship Assistance measures for residents and businesses significantly impacted by the COVID-19 emergency, including waiving of interest on overdue rates and flexible payment plans.
  • Updates to Council’s Financial Hardship Assistance Policy to include businesses and landlords, and the waiving of credit card surcharges while Council’s Administration Building is closed.
  • The waiving of lease fees for community organisations that lease Council-owned land/and or buildings for a period of six months.
  • A program to enable Council staff to assist community-based organisations, to help deliver critical community services.

“There has been a lot of hard work that has gone in to developing these measures and it’s wonderful that we can now begin to put them in place,” added Cr Fraser.

Council’s community and business relief package features an array of measures, which demonstrates our commitment to helping those that need support across the City.

“This is a tough time for our whole community and these measures, including the updates to Council’s Financial Hardship Assistance Policy, will benefit residents, businesses and many community organisations delivering essential services to vulnerable communities.

“We also know that our local businesses will be hit particularly hard. We have more than 13,000 businesses operating in our City, 98% of which are small businesses. They are feeling the impacts and there is no short-term fix for the current crisis, so that’s why the relief package will be in place for up to six months.”

The majority of the measures will be made available immediately, with the exception of the proposed rent relief package for Council’s commercial and residential tenants. This measure is required to be exhibited for 28 days and once it has been endorsed by Council it will be backdated to 1 April 2020.

Council’s announcement of relief measures comes in addition to the economic support packages from the Australian Government and NSW Government.

In response to the COVID-19 emergency Council has published a dedicated webpage with essential information for the community and businesses at lakemac.com.au/COVID-19.

In addition, we have developed easy to read guides on Federal and NSW government support that is available for sole traders, companies and employers. We have also launched a Lake Mac Business Directory to connect customers with businesses that remain open and have adapted their services. To access the business directory, visit lakemac.com.au/COVID-19/Local-business-support/Lake-Mac-Local

If residents, businesses or landlords are experiencing financial hardship, or have recently been stood down and have had their income reduced or ceased as a result of COVID-19 they may be eligible for Council's Financial Hardship Assistance. For more information and to apply visit lakemac.com.au/COVID-19/Community-support

Residents and businesses that need support are encouraged to reach out to Council by calling 4921 0333.