Wollondilly Shire Council announces community and business relief plan for COVID-19 crisis

Wollondilly Shire Council announces community and business relief plan for COVID-19 crisis

Posted on: 27.03.2020

The Wollondilly community has had to deal with significant challenges in recent times including drought, bushfires, floods and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recognising these unprecedented challenges, Council is implementing a compassionate community support program and has released a new Business Support Package to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Developed by all Councillors through urgent workshops over the past week, Council’s priority is to support effected residents and businesses through this tough time.

Council has also taken unprecedented measures to keep our community and staff safe. Through this extraordinary crisis our services to the community continue, committed staff are out in the field providing essential services and the vast majority of staff are working from home to minimise risk and play our part in keeping pressure off our health system. Waste is being collected, roads fixed, villages maintained, DA’s processed, all without a hitch.

This first stage Business Support Package includes an initial $750,000 investment in initiatives to support local businesses through three important phases of dealing with the crisis; survival, adaptation and recovery.

Mayor Matthew Deeth said, “We are here to support you and our community! This is about doing whatever it takes to ensure that small businesses can come out the other side of this crisis and rebuild. Wollondilly businesses are the foundation of our local economy and Council recognises how important you are for local jobs, goods and services.”

“This is just the first stage in Council’s response to the crisis, and we will also need to adapt and change as more information comes to light.”

 “I’m encouraged the Commonwealth and State Governments have released a number of stimulus packages including financial and non-financial support to date and more will need to be done into the future. Councillors met urgently this week to identify ways to complement this plan to further assist local business, and residents” he said.

The Business Support Package will directly assist small businesses struggling with financial uncertainty by waiving and deferring a range of fees and charges, providing space for businesses to recover.

Council will prioritise local businesses when planning Council contracted service delivery and cut payment terms in half for local businesses to help cash flow.

Fees will be waived including environmental health inspections, fire safety inspections, outdoor dining and advertising, development application and assessment and building compliance.

Council will offer to defer commercial rates for businesses, subject to the landlords passing on this benefit to business tenants, and discuss rent relief for businesses and community organisations using Council properties

Council has already begun assisting businesses through engagement on its social media and website channels, starting a new ‘Business Wollondilly’ Facebook page, providing updates on the latest government funding grants, and advocating to State and Federal Governments on behalf of the business community.

Council will invite a selection of key business representatives to form a Business Community Taskforce to work with Council to advise business relief and recovery in response to COVID-19.

Council’s compassionate community support program has been activated for affected residents, with a “request for relief” process to ensure that affected residents and businesses can get the assistance needed as quickly as possible without lengthy delays.

Residents, Farmers and home-based businesses affected by the crisis can access financial hardship support from Council which will allow them to defer any outstanding accounts, including rates, interest free under Council’s Hardship Policy.

Council will work closely with those affected to provide information and make arrangements that consider their individual circumstances.

“We’re here for our community and we will get through this together like we always have”, said Mayor Deeth.

Council recognises that people are feeling worried, stressed and anxious in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19). There are many sources of information available, which can also add to a sense of confusion on how to respond. This is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. The Wollondilly Business team will link businesses into our partnership program with Community Links Wellbeing and other business resources for mental health and wellbeing support.

For more information visit Council's Disaster's and Public Health website pages.