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More Government Support For People Affected By Northland Droughts

From tomorrow farmers and growers affected by drought in the Northland region and parts of the Auckland region will have access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPs), Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has announced.

“We want farmers and growers to know they can ask for help and there may be support available to them. This assistance may help ease some of the financial pressures they’re facing and help with their essential living costs.

“I urge people struggling as a result of the drought to contact Work and Income to see what they might be eligible for,” she said.

RAPs are accessible from 2 March and provide help to farmers and growers in the area with a payment equal to Jobseeker Support.

The drought was recently classified as a medium-scale adverse event by the Minister of Agriculture.

“The classification means we can activate additional Government support for farmers and growers in impacted areas,” said Minister Sepuloni.

“The Northland Rural Support Trust has already been doing great work in the region, and we’ll be working closely with them to get support to those who need it.

“We also recognise that even with some rainfall, droughts can be slow to recover from, and that the effects will be felt longer term.”

Minister Sepuloni adds that dry conditions are affecting other places in New Zealand.

“On Friday 28 February, the Minister of Agriculture extended the classification of the medium-scale adverse event for the droughts in Northland and parts of Auckland to include the rest of Auckland and Waikato. We will work closely to see if Rural Assistance Payments are needed in those areas.”

“The Ministry of Social Development works with the Ministry for Primary Industries, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), regional councils, the Rural Support Trust and other agencies to monitor conditions across the country.”

ENDS

Key dates

11 February 2020

The Minister of Agriculture classified the drought in Northland and parts of Auckland a medium-scale adverse event

18 February 2020

The Minister for Regional Economic Development announced up to $2m from the Provincial Growth Fund will be directed to set up temporary water supplies in Kaikohe and Kaitaia

2 March 2020

Rural Assistance Payments will be available

Questions and answers

How do farmers get in touch with Work and Income to check if they are eligible?

Phone: 0800 559 009.

Hours: Monday - Friday 7am to 6pm, Saturday 8am to 1pm.

How do farmers get in touch with a Rural Support Trust?
Phone: 0800 787 254 or go to www.rural-support.org.nz

Which areas have access to this funding?

The following areas are able to access Rural Assistance Payments:

· Far North District

· Kaipara District

· Whangarei District, and

· the Auckland City Council wards; Rodney, Albany, Waitemata and Gulf, North Shore, Waitakere and Whau.

Will funding also be available for other areas affected by dry conditions?

At the moment, we’ve only activated RAPs for people in Northland and specified parts of Auckland. We’re aware there are other regions being affected by dry conditions. We’re working closely with the Rural Support Trust who are monitoring the situation in these areas.

How much money has been made available?

Up to $500,000 has been made available to support farmers and growers. The funding will be available until it’s either used or until 2 November 2020. However, if these conditions continue, an extension to this may be applied.

Rural Assistance Payments

· Rural Assistance Payments are a recovery measure we can draw on when people working in the primary sector are impacted by a medium-scale event.

· They’re a non-taxable payment that help affected families cover their essential living costs.

· RAPs are paid at the same rate as Jobseeker Support. There are some eligibility criteria people need to meet as these payments are income and asset tested.

· MSD works closely with the Rural Support Trust to administer these payments.

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