Auckland Council’s Finance and Performance committee has unanimously agreed to extend the postponement of rates for ratepayers impacted by COVID-19 and continue its current support measures for Auckland business as the region prepares for its tenth week in lockdown.
Council’s Chief Economist Unit estimates Auckland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) loss under Alert Level 4 to be $85-100 million per day and $50-70 million under Alert Level 3.
The council’s existing support for business will continue, which includes extending street trading licenses, waiving application fees and street trading rents for new applications, and supporting ratepayers facing financial hardship by remitting penalties. In addition to these measures, the council has agreed to back Aucklanders by:
- extending the Postponement of rates for ratepayers impacted by COVID-19 scheme to cover the rates for the 2021/2022 financial year
- requesting the government to amend relevant legislation to provide for temporary variations to on-licence conditions to support outside dining during COVID-19 restrictions (and allow councils to extend alcohol licences at no extra cost)
- requesting the government to significantly enhance its business support package for Auckland.
Mayor Phil Goff says, “Auckland is on the front line of New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and restrictions that are needed to keep the rest of the country safe from the virus are imposing huge costs on Aucklanders.
“A large number of Auckland businesses are doing it tough because lockdown restrictions mean they can’t operate normally—and sometimes can’t operate at all.
“As well as providing assistance through measures such as rates postponements, council has been advocating strongly for more financial support for otherwise viable businesses which may not survive a prolonged lockdown.
“We hope the government will recognize the strain that Auckland businesses are under and provide increased financial assistance in its upcoming support package.”
Cr Desley Simpson, Finance and Performance Committee Chair says the impacts of COVID-19 are long, deep and ongoing, and the council is committed to supporting businesses survive this season.
“The committee’s decision demonstrates a group-wide commitment to improving support for business through this challenging time,” Simpson says.
“The council’s remit for financial support is limited but we are proud to be offering support across finance, regulatory and through Auckland Unlimited, to relieve some of the pressure.”
Simpson says she hopes the rates postponement scheme will give business some breathing room, “Council costs are a very small proportion of the overall costs for business, but we think it is important to relieve pressure where possible.
Changes made by the council are to be supplemented by advocacy to the government, “The council acknowledges the current restrictions are in place to stop the spread of the virus, but the associated pressures are threatening the viability of many businesses.
“Government’s tool kit to support business is considerably larger than council’s and we urge them to significantly enhance their business package for Auckland, with urgency,” says Cr Simpson.
For information on support available to Auckland businesses see this article on OurAuckland.