Covid-19 Financial Hardship Relief

Local residents experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may be able to access relief from City of Busselton in the areas of rates, leases (on property owned by the City of Busselton), fees and charges.

To determine whether you are eligible for consideration under the interim COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy, and to find out more about the application process, please view the FAQs below.

You can lodge an online application for City of Busselton COVID-19 Financial Hardship.

How do I apply?

To apply for consideration for assistance under the Financial Hardship Policy you will need to complete the Covid-19 Financial Hardship Application form.  You will need to state your reasons for eligibility in accordance with the policy. In the case of a community group, you should state which group you represent, and provide evidence that you are authorised to apply on their behalf. 

Am I eligible?

Each application will be assessed on its merits, on a case by case basis. City of Busselton staff may also contact you to clarify or obtain additional information relevant to your application.

While evidence of hardship will be required, the City recognises that not all circumstances are alike. The City will take a flexible approach to a range of individual circumstances including, but not limited to, the following situations:

  1. Recent unemployment or under-employment
  2. Sickness or recovery from sickness
  3. Low income or loss of income
  4. Unanticipated circumstances such as caring for and supporting extended family.

All applicants must clearly identify any extenuating circumstances affecting their ability to meet the financial obligation.


Community groups/organisations are also eligible under similar criteria, see ‘How to apply as a community group’ below.

What assistance is the City of Busselton providing under the Financial Hardship Policy?

The City is looking to provide a range of assistance as well as changes to procedures and existing programs to help the community. These include:

Area of Assistance Detail
Rates and Rating Initiative
  • Freezing (deferring) of any interest or fees and charges associated with outstanding rates for the period from April – June 2020 in accordance with the Hardship Policy.
  • Halting any debt recovery action on outstanding rates on a case by case basis if affected by COVID-19.
  • Consider all rate relief options to support small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commercial Leases with the City of Busselton
  • Waive payment or suspension of rent and outgoings for those businesses required to be closed to the public or severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis on a case by case basis until 30 June 2020.
Community Leases and Building Assistance
  • Waiving of lease costs, rent and/or outgoings for community organisations required to close/cease operating until 30 June 2020 on a case by case basis.
  • Waiving of utilities reimbursements provided community group is not eligible for State subsidies or assistance.
Community Self Supporting Loan Assistance
  • Freezing (deferring) interest and principal payments to community groups who currently have a self-supporting loan with the City of Busselton on a case by case basis until 30 June 2020.
Geographe Leisure Centre / Naturaliste Community Centre Memberships and Fees
  • Suspension of all memberships.
  • Balance credit to ‘Learn to Swim’ participants.

The City will give consideration to placing a halt on outstanding rates, on a case by case basis, if it can be demonstrated that a ratepayer has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ratepayers are encouraged to provide information about their individual circumstances that may be relevant for assessment. This may include demonstrating a capacity to make some payment and where possible, enter into a payment proposal.

The City will consider all circumstances, applying the principles of fairness, integrity and confidentiality whilst complying with our statutory responsibilities.

Applications to enter into a payment arrangement with the City will be assessed on a case by case basis.

What if I default on my agreed payment arrangements?

The City will give consideration to suspending recovery of outstanding debts by way of negotiating a suitable payment arrangement with debtors. Where a debtor is unable to make payments in accordance with the agreed payment plan and the debtor advises the City and makes an alternative plan before defaulting on the 3rd due payment, the City will then continue to suspend debt recovery processes.

Where a ratepayer has not reasonably adhered to the agreed payment plan, then for any Rates and Service Charge debts that remain outstanding on 1 July 2021, the City will offer the ratepayer one further opportunity of adhering to the payment plan that will clear the total debt by the end of the 2021/22 financial year.

Rates and service charge debts that remain outstanding at the end of the 2021/22 financial year, will then be subject to the rates debt recovery procedures prescribed in the Local Government Act 1995.

How do I apply as a Community Group?

In accordance with the Hardship Policy, Community Groups can apply for assistance with:

  1. Waiving or suspension of rent and outgoings
  2. Self supporting loan reprieve (see ‘What if I have a loan with Council?’ below)

You will be required to apply on behalf of your community group, however you must be authorised by that group to do so. You will be required to provide financial information in support of your application which may include bank statements, audited accounts and recent balance sheet. Your application on behalf of the community group will also be assessed on a case by case basis.

What if I/my community group has a self-supporting loan with Council?

There are a number of organisations that have loans with the City of Busselton. You are required to make an application for assistance under the Hardship Policy requesting assistance with your self-supporting loan.

Dependent on eligibility, the City may freeze (defer) all interest and principal payments for the period 1 April to 30 June 2020. This will be assessed on a case by case basis.

I have a membership with the Geographe Leisure Centre and/or the Naturaliste Community Centre - what help can I get?

For eligible upfront (fixed period membership) and direct debit memberships the City will suspend memberships so that they continue upon reopening. The City intends to credit any learn to swim applicants.

When will I find out if my application has been approved?

Initial applications may take a number of weeks to consider. Once the City has an improved understanding of the applications it can expect to receive, it is intended that applications will be able to be assessed within 5 working days. This is provided that all the required information and evidence has been received from the applicant. 

What if I am refused an application for Financial Hardship and my circumstances adversely change?

You will need to contact the City of Busselton to provide the additional information as to how your circumstances has changed. City officers may re-assess the application with the new application and provide a determination.

 

Related Information

COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy

COVID-19 Financial Hardship Application

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