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Government's Emergency Helpline activated

Media Release

For Immediate Release
Government's Emergency Helpline activated

The Ministry of Social Development has activated the Government Helpline 0800 779 997 in response to the drought.

Ministry spokesman and National Drought Committee member Mike Smith, Work and Income's General Manager Regional Operations, says anyone wanting information and access to services such as financial assistance, stress counseling and other advice should call the helpline.

"The helpline links in with non-government agencies such as Rural Support Trusts, Rural Women and Federated Farmers. There is no wrong door," he said.
"People do not have to be a Work and Income client to get assistance. There is a range of ways we can help people."

Financial assistance can include Unemployment Benefit, Emergency Benefit, Special Needs Grants and Recoverable Assistance Payments.
Rural Assistance Payments may also be available if farmers meet certain criteria, including having made the decision to sell their property or actively evaluating the ongoing viability of continuing in the industry.

These payments are currently available to drought affected farmers in the territories of the following local authorities:

• Gisborne District Council

• Wairoa District Council

• Napier District Council

• Hastings District Council

• Central Hawkes Bay District Council

• Tararua District Council

• Masterton District Council

• Carterton District Council

• South Wairarapa District Council

The need for this assistance is also being looked into for other drought-affected regions.

In addition to the range of financial assistance available, Work and Income can help farmers and farm workers to find off-farm employment.

"Drought-affected regions will have dedicated Work and Income rural case managers who will attend meetings and be able to visit people whose incomes have been affected," Mr Smith said.

"We are working closely with other agencies that support the rural sector to ensure co-ordinated and wrap-around services."

These include the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Inland Revenue, Federated Farmers, Rural Women, Rural Support Trusts, Victim Support and Te Puni Kokiri.

Call 0800 779 997 for information or visit the MSD website www.msd.govt.nz for information on the Ministry's services.


ENDS

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