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Sunday, July 25, 2021

City extends COVID-19 hardship support

City of Newcastle is extending hardship support to businesses and residents in the community affected by the latest restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

Unfortunately, local enterprises are likely to see a further slowdown in economic activity given the current constraints in place across regional NSW, in addition to supply chain issues as a direct result of the Greater Sydney lockdown. 

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said council understood many people and small ventures were facing an extremely challenging time.

“City of Newcastle will offer hardship support to residents and business owners experiencing financial hardship through interest free payment plans, upon application, for the upcoming 2021/22 Rates Notice period,” she explained.

“With the notices arriving in mailboxes from mid-July, we encourage those experiencing adversity to reach out and contact City of Newcastle to discuss a payment plan.  

“The next rates instalment is due on 31 August, so there is plenty of time to organise something.”

Ratepayers can enter into a flexible payment option including weekly, fortnightly and monthly instalments as well as other tailored plans. 

Financial planning and counselling assistance through one of City of Newcastle’s appointed community welfare agencies is also available to ratepayers experiencing hardship.  

“In July 2020, during the height of COVID-19, we saw a large take-up from residents and businesses experiencing hardship and helped set up appropriate arrangements. $1.64 million in rates were deferred during the peak period,” Cr Nelmes said.

“We’re extending the same support to help the community through this challenging time, too.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said the City’s $5.5 million COVID Community and Economic Resilience Package was continuing.

It’s focused on creating new economic opportunities by upskilling local talent and increasing business resilience to events like COVID-19 in the medium to long-term. 

“City of Newcastle has called on businesses to develop training packages that address the skills gaps in the local economy, with a range of NewSkills training programs soon to be on offer,” he said.

“Target areas include identifying how businesses in the hospitality and tourism sectors can build a more resilient business model and support emerging industries.

“City of Newcastle has invested $100,000 into e-Library resources under the Community and Economic Development Resilience Package, building on its existing repertoire of free adult and children’s e-books, newspapers, magazines, music and movie streaming services as well as online learning with the community able to access 5,800 additional e-book and audiobook titles, plus a new video streaming platform ‘Medici TV’ for those who don’t subscribe to Netflix, Stan, Foxtel and the like.

“We have also extended indefinitely our decision to waive library fines to encourage a more positive member experience and provide additional means for the community to access free resources for continued learning.”

Newcastle Libraries’ members can also access more than 8,000 e-learning courses and 13,000 video tutorials free of charge on topics such as resume writing, skills for retraining, and how to start a business, via an online learning platform. 

The benefit of these courses is the upskilling of the local workforce during a period of economic downturn, empowering people to learn while improving community wellbeing. 

Ratepayers experiencing financial difficulties are encouraged to seek assistance by contacting City of Newcastle’s Rates Team on 4974 2307 or [email protected]

For further information, visit City of Newcastle’s Pay Your Rates webpage. 

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