New Zealand’s cost of living crisis has been an ongoing discussion leading up to the election.
It’s obvious why, according to Stats NZ, the cost of living for the average household increased by 7.2 per cent between June 2022 and June 2023.
There are reasons for this - there are higher prices for homes as well as everyday necessities such as groceries and apparel. It can be challenging living on a limited budget and there may be difficult choices that have to be made between buying nutritious food, settling bills, or compromising on living conditions.
Despite the challenges, the Government is attempting to find solutions to help people deal with financial worries. One of these is called the Rates Rebate Scheme.
If you own your home and are on a low income, you may be eligible for a rates rebate. This is a subsidy to help low-income homeowners with the cost of their rates through your local council.
So how do you know if you are eligible?
1. Your household income must be below a certain maximum.
2. You must be living at that address.
3. You must be listed as the ratepayer with the local council.
If you are not sure contact Napier CAB and they will be able to assist you or check with the council.
What amount could you get back? Again, this depends on your income and how many dependents you have, and how much your annual rates bill is.
Dependents may include children who are under the age of 18 or dependent relatives who receive a benefit but not NZ Superannuation.
If you think you are eligible citizens, Advice Napier can assist you with the process orr you can complete an application which is available online from www.govt.nz or the council can give you a printed form.
You will need proof of your income from Inland Revenue, MSD or if you are self-employed you need to be able to show a copy of your financial accounts. You will need to sign a declaration form and then either post or take the information to the council.
When can you apply? Once you receive your rates bill, you can apply for a rebate for the current rating year July 2023 to July 2024.
To do this you must return your application to the council by June 30, 2024. This may seem far away but it’s good to know if you are eligible to get a bit of money back and to get the process started.
More information can be found on www.govt.nz – “get financial help with housing” or there is lots of information on the Citizens Advice Bureau website - https://www.cab.org.nz/article/KB00001988
Anyone who wants to ask for advice can contact the Napier Citizens Advice Bureau in Bower House, Bower St, Monday to Friday 9.00 - 4.00 on 06 835 9664 or 0800 367 222 or send an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Confidentiality is always assured.