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New rates rebates scheme receives thumbs up

4 September 2006

New rates rebates scheme receives thumbs up as $10 million mark passed

Rates rebates totalling some $10,864,633 have already been approved for 23,859 New Zealand households under the newly expanded rates rebates scheme, Local Government Minister Mark Burton said today.

"This is an outstanding early response. Although many councils are still to send out their rates invoices, New Zealand families in those areas that have are giving a resounding thumbs up to the new scheme."

"Passing the $10 million mark is a major milestone and comes just weeks after the new scheme came into effect," Mark Burton said.

The number of applications already approved this year compares with the 4,200 applications that were approved for a rates rebate during the whole of the 2005/06 rating year under the previous scheme. "That's a more than 500 percent increase in successful applications and a 15-fold increase in the total value of rebates approved already," Mark Burton said.

"I would remind other ratepayers who think they may be eligible for a rates rebate and have received their first rates notice to check with their local councils about making an application," he said.

Under the expanded scheme many more New Zealanders, particularly those on low and fixed incomes, are eligible for a subsidy to help pay their rates bill. The key changes to the scheme included:

- An increase in the maximum rebate from $200 to $500;
- In most cases the income threshold under which people will be eligible for a full rebate is to increase from $7,400 to $20,000;
- Some people earning over this figure will also be eligible to receive a rates rebate depending on their rates bill;
o For example, a married couple who received New Zealand Superannuation of $24,456 and are paying annual rates of $1,746 or more would still be entitled to a maximum rates rebate of $500;
- An increase in the additional income allowance for each dependent from $156 to $500.

"To implement the 1 July changes, this Labour-led Government has allocated more than seventy times the level of funding to the rates rebates scheme than was previously allocated in rebates," Mark Burton said.

A total of 34,138 applications for rates rebates have been received, with most of those not yet approved currently being processed.

Application forms for the 06/07 rating year are available from local councils and on the rates rebate website www.ratesrebates.govt.nz. The site also contains a calculator to help people check their eligibility.

ENDS

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