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Over the past months, the City of Cape Town has enhanced its efforts to reach low-income residents who can benefit from the financial aid that the City offers. Its indigent campaign has enabled many cash-strapped residents to be added to the City’s database for rates and tariff relief. Traditionally, the uptake of this relief is low and the City wishes to see more qualifying residents apply for this assistance. Read more below:

The drive to promote the City’s social relief package to qualifying low-income residents, and to residents who may know of vulnerable homeowners in need of assistance, saw more than 3 000 people attending community events across the metro between April and June 2018. EPWP workers handed out flyers and engaged with residents at their homes, at old age homes and public facilities to spread awareness of the assistance that is on offer.

Currently, there are more than 3 000 registered indigent homeowners and the City hopes to see more qualifying residents applying for this benefit.

Through the events and awareness interventions held in areas such as Khayelitsha, Tafelsig, Atlantis, Gugulethu, Eerste River and Kraaifontein, among others, hundreds of new applications have been received and are being considered as possible beneficiaries.

The City’s indigent support package, comprising R1,5 billion for indigent relief and approximately R1,5 billion in rates rebates, empowers vulnerable residents by helping them with municipal bills, debt arrangements and alleviating their financial burden. Residents who live in properties valued at R100 000 and below qualify for 100% rates rebates and refuse removal relief.

Apart from property value, the City also uses household income as a factor to determine which residents qualify for assistance. For instance, where the gross monthly household income is R4 000 or below, these households can get a 100% rates rebate and receive the same benefits as if their properties were valued below R100 000. There are also various levels of assistance available where the household income is below R6 000 per month.

‘Every year we budget a large amount for indigent relief. However, we noticed that the uptake was not optimal, whether because some people may be embarrassed about their personal situation or because they are not aware of the assistance that is on offer. Our main message is that it is okay to sometimes ask for help. If ignored, financial problems become worse.

‘Those in need of assistance do not have to walk the path alone. During our campaign we called on friends, family members, neighbours and colleagues to encourage those that they know who are in need of help to apply to the City. We will continue to offer debt management advice at our customer care offices and at municipal facilities,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Finance, Councillor Johan van der Merwe.

Residents are encouraged to visit their nearest municipal walk-in centre and complete an application form to see if they are eligible for the benefits. You may also contact your ward councillor or subcouncil office to apply.

If you know of someone who might potentially qualify for assistance, please direct them to visit: http://www.capetown.gov.za/local%20and%20communities/financial-relief-and-rebates/our-approach-to-financial-support/indigent-grants

Applicants will need:

· proof of identification (ID book/card)

· a bank statement for the last three months or a sworn affidavit stating that they do not have a bank account

· a bond statement for the last three months or a sworn affidavit stating that they do not have a bond account

· a copy of the estate documents if the applicant has inherited his or her house

If you are employed, please also:

· include your latest salary/wage payslip or a letter from an employer stating your income

· include a sworn affidavit if you are self-employed stating how much you earn per month

· proof if you receive a disability grant, maintenance grant or pension

If you are unemployed, please also include the following in your application:

· a sworn affidavit stating that you are unemployed

· a sworn affidavit stating that you have no other source of income

Potential beneficiaries may apply on an ongoing basis and will receive the benefits from the date of approval of the application. An approved applicant will receive a once-off debt write-off. To be able to receive this benefit, the applicant must give permission for the installation of a water management device and prepaid electricity meter where applicable. If a prior arrears write-off was made, then a suitable repayment plan for the arrears which accumulated after the original write-off must be negotiated with the City before the indigent benefits may be accessed.

The indigent status is valid for one year from date of application for people younger than 60 years. However, for people 60 years and older, the application is valid for three years and runs together with the valuation cycle. The current valuation cycle ends on 30 June 2019.

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