No rates for bushfire-affected residents: state government

The ruins of a house in Torrington. Dozens of homes and businesses were wrecked in the New England region last year, with thousands more lost across the state. None will have to pay rates.
The ruins of a house in Torrington. Dozens of homes and businesses were wrecked in the New England region last year, with thousands more lost across the state. None will have to pay rates.

Homes and businesses ruined by last years' devastating bushfires won't have to pay council rates for half of this year, after an announcement by the state government yesterday.

Disaster recovery Minister John Barilaro yesterday committed that no bush fire affected community will have to pay rates on a home that has been lost to the fires.

"The last thing our communities need right now is more financial stress, which is why the NSW Government is doing everything to ease the burden by funding council rates and picking up the bill for the clean-up, at no cost to owners," the Deputy Premier said.

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Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock yesterday committed the NSW Government to cover the full cost of council rates for the third and fourth quarters of this financial year for residents and farmers who have lost their homes, and business owners whose properties have been destroyed beyond repair by bushfires.

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall welcomed the news, and said the large-scale clean-up of homes will begin in the next few weeks, free for all residents insured and uninsured.


"Receiving a rates bill in the mail from your local council is the last thing people, who have lost their homes and possessions, need at the moment," he said.


"They need financial stress and burden lifted, which is why the State Government is doing everything to ease the pressure by funding council rates and picking up the bill for the clean-up, at no cost to owners, whether they are insured or not."

Residents will still get a notice because Councils are legally prohibited from waving rates for any resident.

But bushfire-affected residents can get the notice paid at a Service NSW centre and the Government will cover the cost, with residents who have already paid entitled to a refund.

More than 2400 homes have been lost in NSW so far this fire season.

Bushfire affected small businesses will also have access to up to $50,000 of assistance, with councils entitled to up to $250,000.

Small businesses and farmers can also borrow up to $500,000 in low interest loans, and have access to a $50,000 Bushfire Working Capital loan, which is interest free for two years.