Ipswich City Council has begun a multi-phased relief program which will help groups who are suffering most under the impacts of COVID-19.
Interim administrator Steve Greenwood said there would be a number of initiatives to support those we know to be directly impacted by social distancing and crowd-reduction strategies.
“For some, income streams are drying up. In those cases, a number of fees and charges will be waived,” Mr Greenwood said.
“In addition, we’ll be increasing our loan limits at libraries. And we’ll be fast-tracking the launch of a portal which helps businesses understand where grant money is available to help their plans.”
Such measures would be the first step in an ongoing relief effort to support those facing incredibly challenging times.
“Like many local government authorities, we know that the local economy is struggling, and will continue to do so for some time,” Mr Greenwood said.
“It is our responsibility – in conjunction with the state and federal governments – to help maintain and ultimately grow the local economy, ensure jobs are safe, and now to support Ipswich small to medium enterprise through this period of unforeseen hardship.
“We are going into uncharted waters and we know it’s going to be tough. But we know it will end. We want to do what we can to help businesses and community groups be strong enough to rise again as this period of social distancing eventually begins to unwind.”
In the first phase of support, there will be particular focus on food and entertainment businesses, and sporting and community organisations.
For the quarter from March 1 until June 30, council will:
- Waive footpath dining fees;
- Waive or refund food licence fees;
- Waive or refund temporary food stall/premises fees;
- Waive or refund temporary event fees;
- Waive or refund fees associated with the use of parks;
- Waive or refund booking fees for community venues; and
- Refund booking fees for all cancelled events on council property.
In addition, council will look to:
- Inject money more quickly into the local economy, by seeking to pay for goods and services within seven days instead of the current 30 day terms;
- Launch a new internet portal which will explain all the grants available to businesses and community organisations;
- Increase Ipswich Libraries’ borrowing limits to 50 items, and borrowing time to eight weeks; and
- Send our Active and Healthy program digital, offering yoga and bootcamp sessions online.
Mr Greenwood said more announcements would be made soon.