7 Sep 2016

Single claim for Havelock North water crisis assistance fund

5:06 pm on 7 September 2016

Just one Havelock North business hit by the town's water crisis has had its application for financial help processed by the Hastings District Council.

Businesses at immediate risk of going under now have less than a week left to apply to the council fund.

Havelock North public meeting saw many questions asked, some answered but many more to come.

Only a single Havelock North business has put its hand up for financial assistance from a special fund. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

For weeks, Havelock North businesses have complained of the devastating effect the gastro bug has had on custom, with some owners even taking out overdrafts for the first time.

The $100,000 council funding scheme was matched dollar for dollar by the government.

But only one application for help had been processed so far.

Paul Greaney from the Village Butcher was not surprised, saying the requirements were too onerous for a small business.

"They asked for profit and loss reports, bank statements for last year and this year - you'd have to get an accountant to draw that up for you," he said.

"You're talking at least $1000 there so, by the time you get any compensation back, what have are you standing to gain? So I put it in the too-hard basket, myself."

The scheme was not designed to provide compensation but offered business owners either cash, a rates deferment or low level interest-free loans.

The council put the single application down to how new the offer was, saying there could still be more to come.

It would not say which business had applied or how much it had paid out.

Liv Reynolds, who owned three eateries in Havelock North, said she suspected some business owners were hanging back out of respect to others in a worse position.

She was still not sure if she would apply.

"I think if it was compensation it would be a whole different kettle of fish.

"Because it's ... assistance, we'll consider whether we do put our hand up for money. You know, we're entitled to it."

Hospitality Association Hawke's Bay branch president Shaye Bird said owners were simply too busy trading to apply.

"They're probably just trying to get their own businesses up and running and getting their staff, who were sick, back on board," he said.

"When they've got everything ticking along then they'll start looking at that, to try to keep the bank balance at bay."

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said the process was set up to ensure assistance was delivered in a fair and transparent way.

The form was done in a basic way and should not need expert knowledge, he said.

"We've set this package up because a number of businesses expressed to us that they have been severely financially disadvantaged - to the point that it's compromised their business viability in the short term.

"So if that is actually the situation, then I would have thought it was strategically important for them to complete the paperwork to be eligible to be considered as part of this package."

He was not worried by the single processed application and would make his judgement when the deadline arrived.

The scheme closes for so-called "first priority" cases next Monday.

Those in less urgent circumstances could apply until 23 September.

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