‘Talk to us if you need help’
The City of Cape Town has a comprehensive indigent policy and also a rebate system for pensioners. Financial assistance includes some R3,3 billion for indigent relief and also Covid-19 assistance in the form of no interest payment arrangements and lowering income thresholds to ensure more people can benefit from the City’s support services. The City currently has a 97% payment ratio, which indicates most ratepayers are able to pay their municipal accounts. Those who can’t, should please approach the City for assistance. Read more below:
- More than 40% of Cape Town’s residences benefit from some level of financial rates and services relief, including rental subsidisation.
- 40% of households in Cape Town receive water free of charge.
- It is important that municipal income is protected for without it, the City will not be able to provide basic and essential services.
‘Anyone struggling to pay can approach the City and discuss their situation with us. We don’t know each person’s individual circumstances, so it is necessary that people talk to us. The City’s policies aim to accommodate everyone according to their income level. Our policies are completely non-racial and all races are treated the same. We only act against those who do not make any effort to engage us and who fail to adhere to the relevant regulations. The uptake of indigent support remains relatively low and the City reiterates its call for residents who are in financial difficulty to go to their nearest customer care office and see if they qualify for support,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Finance and Deputy Executive Mayor, Alderman Ian Neilson.
It is important to emphasise the City does not cut off water at residential properties; however, services are restricted to a running trickle flow of water to those property owners and City tenants who have ignored the warning/restriction letters sent to them, including those who have not come forward to access the City’s basket of benefits. During the first five months of the Covid-19 crisis, the City did not reduce water to trickle flows for arrears. However, it is not sustainable to do so forever. National Treasury sent a Directive to all municipalities to resume debt management actions in August 2020. It is important that municipal income is protected for without it, the City will not be able to provide basic and essential services.
Reducing water to a trickle flow is not a debt action that is taken lightly. The City provides 40% of households in Cape Town with water free of charge as part of its social package. Every account is looked at individually and within the context of the Credit Control and Debt Collection By-law and Policy, and the Water By-law. Indigent customers are provided with options to address their debt. In terms of relevant legislation, the City has to send out invoices advising the debtor of their liability. If the accounts are not settled after the due date, and after warning notices, appropriate debt collection actions must be taken.
All City by-laws and policies comply with legislation and the Constitution.
The City cannot afford to give everyone unlimited free basic services. The money to pay for services must come from somewhere and it currently comes from a small number of tax and ratepayers.
More than 40% of Cape Town’s residences benefit from some level of financial rates and services relief, including:
- 100% property rates rebate;
- 100% refuse removal rebate;
- 10,5kl free water;
- 7,35kl free sanitation;
- 60kWh free electricity if consumption is less than 250kWh; and
- 25kWh free electricity if consumption is greater than 250kWh but less than 450kWh
- rent payable for Council units is also subsidised according to the tenant’s income; for instance, a tenant with a monthly income of say R2 500 would pay rent of approximately R200 per month.
The City will continue to operate in a manner that is sustainable, that does not jeopardise service delivery and that sees to it that those who qualify for support are provided with relief.