Local councils have an integral and vital role in assisting their communities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through emergency management provision and the delivery of services throughout municipalities to those requiring assistance and support.
With many businesses reducing in size or going into hibernation, and employees and sole traders transitioning to the Federal Government’s JobKeeper or JobSeeker programs, the burden of councils’ rates on ratepayers will become increasingly onerous for many Victorians.
Councils should be offering rate relief to distressed households right now.
But the State Government must help councils with any loss of revenue so that the important role of councils can continue uninterrupted during these unprecedented times.
Councils must also give thought to a complete rate freeze for this financial year, to assist everyone with this significant cost burden.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Local Government, Tim Smith:
“Many Victorians are facing a period of employment instability and rate relief would help ease the financial burden and ensure they can stay in their own homes.
“Many smaller councils, as well as those in rural and growth areas, may not be able to afford this cost.
“One of the most important initiatives the State Government could make to support vulnerable Victorian households would be to fund rate relief.”