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Rates Relief Part Of Wider Economic Recovery Package

Christchurch ratepayers facing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 crisis will be able to defer their rate payments for up to six months.

The rates deferral and three-month rent holiday for Council’s commercial tenants are part of a package of measures approved today by Christchurch City Council to help alleviate the immediate financial stress that many businesses and households in the city now face.

“March has seen our world turned upside down in a way that many of us did not expect to see in our lifetime. Many in our city are hurting financially and are worried about what the future holds,’’ says Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

“Today the Council has also agreed that it will give its commercial tenants a three-month rent holiday to help them through this difficult time.

“These measures will give those facing financial hardship some breathing space but as a Council we are well aware there is much more that we need to do to support our businesses and residents in these uncertain times,’’ Mayor Dalziel says.

“Given that the rates deferment decision is an immediate response to the final rates instalment falling due and that it has been made just one week after the lockdown began, we have asked staff to provide further advice on any additional financial hardship criteria we could apply. We are meeting again next week, which will provide an early opportunity to review a draft decision-making timetable leading up to our Annual Plan.

“At the same time, the Council is working with its trading companies, including ChristchurchNZ, on an Economic Recovery Package. We are determined to hit the ground running as soon as the lockdown is over.

“The Government is currently scouting for large infrastructure projects that create jobs, have a public or regional benefit, and that it can get under way in short order. We plan to take full advantage of the Government’s call for projects and we plan to get our own pipeline of work ready to go.

“We have already begun reviewing our capital works programme to identify projects that could potentially be brought forward. We must be ready to release as much work as possible when the lockdown ends, as our economic recovery depends on us to do so,’’ Mayor Dalziel says.

ChristchurchNZ Chief Executive Joanna Norris says ChristchurchNZ is supportive of the measures approved today, which will assist in alleviating the immediate burden for many.

“Our economists are forecasting the Covid-19 outbreak will have a significant short and medium-term impact on our city’s economy and people, causing significant hardship.

‘’We are working at pace and with urgency to respond to this global economic shock and to ensure our city is actively working towards recovery in a sustained, coordinated and confident way.’’

The plan will include a range of short and long-term measures to provide economic support for the people of Christchurch, Ms Norris says.

The Economic Recovery Package is still being developed and more information will be made available shortly.

It will have four core components:

· Business Support Package: This work will primarily be carried out in the short-term to support businesses suffering from the immediate economic fallout of Covid-19.

· Infrastructure-led Recovery Programme: This work will primarily focus on identifying and prioritising infrastructure projects to support the economic recovery.

· Strategic Economic Development Programme: This work will ensure all recovery activity is aligned to an agreed long-term vision, and positions Christchurch to enter recovery phase with confidence and in partnership with the private sector and Central Government.

· Community and Visitor Economy Activation Programme: This work will focus on stimulating economic growth when it is safe to do so.

To support the development of the full package, ChristchurchNZ will be convening a Christchurch Economic Recovery Forum. The forum will be chaired by Christchurch City Council Chief Executive Dawn Baxendale and will meet regularly to provide input from both the private and public sector – to best inform our response.

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