Fund to help financial distress

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The Mayoral Discretionary Fund has been established to provide assistance to families and individuals in the community in extreme financial distress.

It will provide assistance on a one-off basis where real need is shown.

Applications will generally only be considered if the applicants can show they have already approached other appropriate sources of relief funding, including Work and Income New Zealand.

The fund is intended for people living in the Ashburton District and can assist with essential utilities which are disconnected including power or gas and/or outstanding bills on properties with young children and/or elderly in residence.

It can help with family or personal crisis, be used to purchase food as a result of an emergency or for homelessness as a result of an emergency.

But applicants can only apply once within a 12-month period.

Debating the fund at last week’s district council meeting, councillor Angus McKay said discretionary funds were not new.

Discretionary funding had been given locally in the past and should have been made available in other cases.

“What we really need is a mechanism in place and ready to go when there is an emergency,” he said.

Councillors were unanimous in support of endorsing the criteria and guidelines to be applied to applications.

The mayor’s office will review all applications, arrange payment and inform applicants of the outcome.

It will also provide confidential assistance to help applicants through the process of completing an application.

The fund, which sits alongside other agencies and organisations supporting the community, will have a budgeted amount of $10,000 per year and any unspent funds will be carried over.