Transport Minister Phil Twyford says the new hardship fund for Auckland businesses affected by the City Rail Link construction delays will be capped and strictly controlled.
Yesterday, the Government agreed to a proposal by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff for a hardship fund for Albert St businesses affected by the rail project taking longer than initially advised.
Today, Twyford told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking there's no precedent in New Zealand for making cash payouts for businesses who are affected by construction projects.
He said the fund will be capped and is based on actual hardship, not compensation for inconvenience.
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"[The fund] is for situations where there have been significant delays beyond the originally planned construction period.
"The other thing is that businesses will have to open their books to show they were commercially viable before construction started."
Twyford said the issue was that [the Government] was now looking at building, particularly in the biggest cities, urban rapid transport which was large scale construction, right in the middle of a city, in highly built-up areas.
"We're going to be building a lot of urban rapid transit infrastructure in the years and decades to come.
"We have to be prudent with taxpayers' money and we need to be fair and consistent about this, so let's do the policy process seriously."
The fund will be administered by City Rail Link Ltd (CRLL) and funded out of its existing contingency, so no extra funding is required.
Sunny Kaushal, owner of Albert St's Shakespeare Hotel and Brewery, told the Herald businesses have been struggling to pay rent, staff and rates. He says the hardship fund will help some of them catch up on overdue bills.
"It's not a matter of how much, it's about how soon. It's a real emergency.
"They all are looking forward to the help so they can keep their doors open."
Yesterday, City Rail Link Ltd's chief executive, Dr Sean Sweeney, acknowledged the rail project had disrupted the lower end of Albert St for longer than anticipated.
"Supporting small businesses has been a project priority for some time and additional hardship assistance on top of the initiatives we have in place already should further help those who may qualify."