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Two new grants for Chch elderly and school families

Published: 12:12PM Tuesday May 31, 2011 Source: ONE News

The Red Cross has announced two new grants to help Christchurch residents get back on their feet following the February 22 earthquake.

The first new financial boost will provide an electric heating subsidy to people over the age of 65 who are living in a damaged home.

Sir John Hansen, chair of the Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Commission, says the Commission sees helping people, particularly the elderly to keep warm in Christchurch this winter, as a top priority.

He said the grant will complement any Government assistance people are receiving.

"We have looked closely at existing support to meet winter electricity and heating costs for the vulnerable people of Christchurch... It is clear from our discussions that the elderly residents of houses with earthquake damage need assistance urgently."

Approved applicants will have $100 paid each month for four months, direct to their power company.

Around 5800 households are likely to be eligible.

Hansen said Red Cross is also urgently looking at ways to assist other medically vulnerable people with their winter heating costs.

The forms and criteria for the Earthquake Winter Assistance Grant for the Elderly will be available from tomorrow, June 1 , and applications will close of on June 27.

Schoolchildren's families also to benefit

The second new grant - the Relocated School Children grant - will cover pupils attending their existing school but commuting a significant distance because of earthquake damage to their houses.

Hansen said the grant reflected the costs and issues faced by families.

"Those who qualify have combinations of damaged houses and streets and restricted services, the grants are not just covering school costs but reflect these hardship issues," Hansen said.

The form and criteria for the Relocated School Children Grant will also be available from tomorrow and the grant closes on the same date, June 27.

More than $64 million has been raised to date in the New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal. More than $45 million has already been given out in grants to around 51,000 affected Christchurch residents.

Government assistance to Christchurch businesses ends today , but the Canterbury Business Recovery Trust fund is continuing its support of businesses, many of which are in the Red Zone and are unable even to get into their premises.