Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought is being expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments available throughout the North Island from today.
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced the extension of access to RAPs, which also now includes parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, yesterday as New Zealanders prepared to go into lockdown at midnight to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The Social Development Minister says challenging drought conditions have spread across multiple regions “and are impacting our farming families and we need to ensure their resilience going forward”.
“People affected by drought in Northland and parts of Auckland were provided with access to RAPs on March 2. From March 26 we’re extending this assistance.”
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Waikato Regional Council and Gisborne District Council in the Central North Island today join a list of new regions across the country now covered by RAPs assistance.
RAPs are payments equal to Jobseeker Support, but tax relief measures are also available and people are encouraged to apply for other kinds of assistance. For example, hardship grants to refill water tanks or cover other unexpected costs.
The drought was recently classified as a large-scale adverse event by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor. It covers the entire North Island along with the top of the South Island (Tasman, Marlborough, Kaikoura), North Canterbury and the Chatham Islands.
Damien says the extreme and prolonged nature of this dry spell is taking its toll on farmers and growers and additional support is needed.
“The pressure on our rural communities right now is extreme, and this Government is committed to helping them get through.
“We’re continuing to keep a close eye on conditions around the country, in case more help is required. “The Government is committed to doing all we can to support farmers and growers at what is a very challenging time.”
Carmel also urges people struggling as a result of the drought to contact the Rural Support Trust or go online at Work and Income, keyword ‘drought2020’, to see what they might be eligible for.
Contact the Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254 or go to www.rural-support.org.nz.
Or go to www.workandincome.govt.nz/eligibility/drought2020.
The regions covered by RAPs assistance from today include:
· the Auckland City Council wards of Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa, Orākei, Franklin, Howick, Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura, Maungakiekie-Tāmaki
· Waikato Regional Council
· Bay of Plenty Regional Council
· Gisborne District Council
· Taranaki Regional Council
· Hawke’s Bay Regional Council
· Manawatu-Wanganui Regional Council
· Wellington Regional Council
· Tasman District Council
· Nelson City Council
· Marlborough District Council
· Kaikōura District Council
· Hurunui District Council
· Waimakariri District Council
· Selwyn District Council
· Christchurch City Council
· Chatham Islands Council