Parry Williams helps with Whittlesea Community Connections’ Food relief project. The organisation will receive a grant from the City of Whittlesea to help people suffering financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details of a COVID-19 financial hardship policy were announced at last week’s City of Whittlesea council meeting – the first since councillors were sacked by the State Government.

Administrator Lydia Wilson announced details of the new policy, which included financial support for Whittlesea Community Connections and initiatives to help businesses during the pandemic.

Ms Wilson said it was the first stage of support from the City of Whittlesea to its residential and business communities, with more announcements expected in due course.

“We understand that COVID-19 has caused significant emotional and financial stress across our community,” Ms Wilson said.

“It is our commitment to all residents and businesses in the City of Whittlesea to provide assistance during this unprecedented time.

“As a first step, we have provided $50,000 to Whittlesea Community Connections, which is at the front line, helping our community with practical needs like home delivered food along with information and advice.

The COVID-19 Financial Hardship Policy is available to all individuals and businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

It removes penalties and costs that would otherwise be incurred under normal conditions, via an application process.

“All City of Whittlesea ratepayers who have been financially affected by COVID-19 will be able to apply for a payment plan or, in serious cases, we will consider deferral of rates during the pandemic without incurring interest until June 30 2021,” Ms Wilson said.

Ms Wilson said rates, fees and charges from residents and businesses allowed the City of Whittlesea to deliver services and other programs to the community.

“We can help those in our community who are struggling to meet the costs of day-to-day life now, without creating additional financial stress when the pandemic is over, and still deliver the services we are here to provide,” she said.

The City of Whittlesea has tripled the number of business mentoring sessions to help businesses navigate the constantly evolving landscape created by COVID-19 and will implement a range of initiatives to stimulate the municipality’s economy.