Source: New Zealand Government
Minister of Local Government Hon Nanaia Mahuta welcomes legislation that makes it easier for low income ratepayers to access rates support from the Government.
“It is important that people can access the Government support they are entitled to. The Rates Rebate (Statutory Declarations) Amendment Act makes it easier for eligible ratepayers to access the Rates Rebate Scheme.”
The Act removes a barrier for some people applying to the Rates Rebate Scheme. Previously, people needed to appear in person to have a statutory declaration witnessed for their applications.
“We know this was particularly challenging for those who live a long way from affordable transport options, or who have a physical disability or declining mobility.”
In some cases, the requirement meant bed-ridden applicants were visited by council staff in their bedroom, so that the statutory declaration could be witnessed.
“I am grateful to those councils who went the extra mile to help these people to apply. However, ultimately it was very obtrusive for applicants and an unnecessary legislative requirement. This Act will ensure people can verify the information on their application form in a much more accessible way.
“In the 2019 rating year, 103,000 people successfully applied for a rates rebate. We know this Act will make life easier for many New Zealanders.
“This change was needed before COVID-19 came to New Zealand. However, now it is clear just how important this is to enable people, especially those vulnerable people in our communities, to apply for Government services remotely.
“The Act will replace the temporary changes this Government made during the COVID-19 restrictions to support access to the Rates Rebate Scheme and allow people to complete statutory declarations remotely.
“This represents another step this Government has taken to improve the Rates Rebate Scheme. We have also made changes to ensure that eligible retirement village residents can receive a rates rebate and that those who receive a winter energy payment are not unfairly penalised when calculating their rebate eligibility,” says Nanaia Mahuta.