A new Targeted Hardship Fund will be set up to help Auckland small businesses that are impacted by disruption from construction of the City Rail Link, Transport Minister Michael Wood and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff announced today.
“The City Rail Link project will deliver a step-change for Auckland’s public transport once complete. But the ongoing construction has meant there is disruption around the project’s Aotea, Karangahape and Mt Eden sites that will continue for some time – so we’ve agreed to set up a targeted fund to support businesses in those areas,” Michael Wood said.
“The Government and Auckland Council have listened to businesses and while the detailed eligibility criteria is worked through, advance interim payments will be made for those that are likely to be eligible for payment based on a high-level independent assessment.
“There will be a significant value uplift for property owners once the project is complete, so it’s our expectation they will be working to support tenants as well. I have asked officials to build a strong expectation of this into the design of the scheme in order to ensure that everyone is doing their bit. I acknowledge some landlords have already provided relief and I hope this continues.
“It’s unfortunate hardship support wasn’t established when the project was first set up. My expectation is major urban projects like Auckland Light Rail will have hardship support schemes created in advance,” Michael Wood said.
“Prior to this project, no assistance has been available to businesses experiencing hardship because of disruption caused during the construction of public works,” said Mayor Phil Goff.
“Our decision to provide assistance in this case reflects the long period of time and scale of construction involved with the City Rail Link.
“While the hardship fund will impose costs on ratepayers and taxpayers of around $12 million, we believe that in the interest of fairness to small business whose livelihoods are threatened by the disruption, a targeted hardship fund is essential.
“We also expect property owners who will receive windfall profits from the value added by ratepayer and taxpayer funded infrastructure to provide assistance through rent relief to these businesses,” Phil Goff said.
Additional funding of up to $12 million will be provided for the next two years from the Government and Auckland Council, with a review late next year for the following two years. Payments to businesses will be backdated to 1 February 2021. Eligibility criteria will be finalised shortly by City Rail Link Limited. Businesses will need to provide evidence they meet the eligibility criteria.
The cost of City Rail Link Targeted Hardship Fund payments will be covered by Government and Auckland Council both contributing 50 per cent each.
Hardship grants will be only paid to businesses that can demonstrate they are suffering genuine hardship and affected by significant and lengthy disruption.
The grants do not address hardship felt by businesses from the impact of COVID-19. The Government is providing a range of assistance for this including the Wage Subsidy and the Resurgence Support Payment.
The level of financial assistance provided will consider the net impacts on businesses from City Rail Link works compared to factors impacting all businesses such as COVID-19.
City Rail Link Limited will administer the fund, with an independent third-party assessor providing input and advice.