The City of Gosnells has defended its decision to not introduce a COVID-19 financial hardship policy, despite being the only metropolitan council that failed to introduce such a policy for two consecutive years.
The Office of the Auditor General’s Local Government COVID-19 Hardship Support audit, released on October 15, identified the City of Gosnells as the only metropolitan council that failed to introduce a COVID-19 financial hardship policy in 2020-21 or 2021-22, based on information provided by the City.
However, newly-elected Mayor Terresa Lynes said the city is a sector-leader in dealing with people experiencing financial hardship and defended the city’s decision to not commit to a financial hardship policy.
“It is disappointing that this position was not reflected in the report by the Office of the Auditor General.
“The city has met with various service providers and financial counsellors in relation to its approach to dealing with people experiencing financial hardship and all have acknowledged the city’s approach as sector leading.
“The City of Gosnells did not introduce a specific COVID-19 financial hardship policy, however implemented a range of measures to support the community.
“We have an extremely flexible approach to ratepayers who are experiencing difficulty paying their rates, by offering a multitude of payment options that can be tailored to meet the needs of individual ratepayers.
“While the city has considered adopting a formal policy position on financial hardship, we believe doing so would limit the flexibility that is currently applied.”
Ms Lynes said the city’s response to COVID-19 included significant infrastructure spending to stimulate the economy, a series of specially tailored COVID-safe events, the hiring of apprentices and trainees, development of an award-winning Simplified Trading Partnership Permit for mobile food vendors and community support programs
She also said the city had no plans to introduce a COVID-19 hardship policy in the future.
“The city is confident its existing flexible approach provides the best support we can offer to ratepayers experiencing financial hardship.”