Georges River pensioners allowed to defer rate payments until they sell their home

Georges River pensioners allowed to defer rate payments until they sell their home

Georges River pensioner ratepayers facing financial hardship will be able to apply to pay their rates and annual charges monthly or defer them until their home is sold in the future without incurring any interest.

The measures were included in the Georges River Council Debt Management and Hardship Policy endorsed by the council on July 27.

But the move comes after the council decided to end its voluntary pensioner rates rebate from next financial year.

For the 2019/20 current financial year pensioners were entitled to the $250 mandatory rebate plus Georges River Council's voluntary $150 rebate.

But the council budget for 2020/21 the $150 voluntary rebate has been removed, saving the council about $1.2 million a year.

The Debt Management and Hardship Policy has been amended to compensate for the loss of the pensioner rebate.

Georges River Council mayor Kevin Greene said that expanding the options available to pensioners is intended to take the pressure off those ratepayers who find themselves in financial difficulty.

"As well as the monthly instalment option, approved eligible pensioners can defer payment of their rates until the sale of their properties, without being charged additional interest," Councillor Greene said.

"Council is doing what it can to reduce the financial burden on its ratepayers where possible.

"We are reassured by the fact that, to date, of the 200 hardship applications received, not one has been declined.

"These new options provide much greater flexibility and will ensure local pensioners

are not left struggling to meet their rates payments," Cr Greene said.

But Cr Vince Badalati said he was concerned at how those who qualified under the council's Debt Management and Hardship Policy were approved.

Approximately 233 people have qualified for assistance under the council's Hardship Policy.

This includes one pensioner.

"That's 233 people out of 50,000 ratepayers - roughly half a per cent," Cr Badalati said.

"We have 8,000 pensioiners. If they all applied to defer their rates they have to go through the Hardship Policy Process.

"There is no way they would all get through the Hardship Policy process.

"I think if half a percentage of individuals manage to get through, that is roughly 40 people."

Cr Badaladi said the council has a subsidy for child care.

"I'm sure that some of the councillors who have kids dio benefit from that subsidy but when it comes to pensioners the same councillors are very happy to take that rebate away from them," he said.

"One of the things we do is make it difficult for one of the vulnerable parts of the community. This will hit a lot of people who survive purely on the pension. As as a Labor councillor it is something I cannot support," Cr Badalati said.

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