Submission id number: 964898
Presbyterian Support Otago
Do you want to speak to Councillors at the hearings?
How are we doing? Is there anything you would like to tell us?
PSO supports and affirms the work the DCC has been doing in the rating space in particular the availability & clarity of Information regarding payment options. These are difficult times, in terms of post pandemic outcomes, inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. All evidence points to more challenging financial times ahead for residents of our Dunedin communities. The recent announcement by the University of Otago regarding the potential loss of 200 jobs, another indicator of tough times ahead for many. We appreciate City Services need funding, but considering the current acute financial challenges, ask Council to keep any rates increase as low as possible. Point 6 of DCC Funding Principles states: “The funding of activities & services should have regard to the interests of residents and ratepayers including future ratepayers.” • Rate arears/defaults are on the increase. PSO Financial mentors are working with many clients struggling to pay rates and losing homes due to mortgagee sales. Our Council is losing money due to defaults, and our clients and their families are suffering. No one wins. Neither does any of this contribute to the stated aims in our 10-year plan to aim to be: “a supportive City with caring communities and a great quality of life.”
What other ideas should we be thinking about to include in future plans for our city?
PSO acknowledges and appreciates the range of options DCC provides to support ratepayers in financial difficulty and submits the following proposals to enhance them. These are proven ways to: 1. Reduce the number of ratepayers getting into financial hardship and difficulty. 2. Support those in arrears to catch up and pay back outstanding rates. 3. Help residents to reduce their financial hardship, improve health and social outcomes by providing free advice and link to supports that will improve their social and economic outcomes. In relation to the Rates Remission and Postponement Policy –Presbyterian Support respectfully submits the following: • In the relevant areas of the rates information (on rates notices and the DCC website) highlight in accessible formats that for all ratepayers who are experiencing financial hardship or distress there is help available and provide links to agencies such as PSO Financial Mentors and other social services. • Expand the criteria (10 Year Plan: Rates Remission& Postponement Policy 3.1 & 4.2) to include financial hardship/vulnerability and a recommendation to engage with a social service agency who can provide wrap around services. • 10 Year Plan Rates Remission& Postponement Policy 10.1 Unexpected Events: consider the impact of the Covid Pandemic, which certainly was/is an unprecedented event with far reaching and long term repercussions. • Referral for rates remissions or postponements go to an small, experienced community social sector panel who then send recommendations to the Chief Financial Officer. The Family Works Team at Presbyterian Support are very willing to work (at no cost to the DCC) alongside City Council staff to offer trained Financial Mentors, Energy Mate Home visits, and other wrap around social services in support of residents struggling to pay rates. Our staff would be pleased to meet with DCC staff to explore what this might look like in practice, and to discuss the way forward in making any changes to relevant policies. Thank you for this opportunity to submit to the Annual Plan