Financial Assistance: $4 Million Monthly Payout

November 19, 2017 | 18 Comments

Financial Assistance payments have “increased significantly over the years,” with the monthly payments rising from approximately $2.5 million in 2011 to just over $4 million in 2017, Minister of Social Development and Sports Zane DeSilva said in the House of Assembly on Friday.

The Minister provided these numbers while speaking about the establishment of a Financial Assistance Reform Group to “undertake a review of the Financial Assistance Programme.”

“In recent years, the Department has seen a sharp increase in number and complexity of client case loads,” Minister DeSilva said.

“For example, the most recent statistics on financial assistance show that the total number of persons in receipt of financial assistance [excluding the child day care allowance programme] was 2,560 in May 2017.

“By comparison, the total number of financial assistance clients was 1,332 in October 2011. The total number of persons receiving financial assistance has nearly doubled in the past 6 years.

“The cost of administering the Financial Assistance Programme has also increased significantly over the years. The total monthly payout for financial assistance [excluding child day care allowance awards] rose from approximately $2.5M in October 2011 to just over $4.0M in October 2017.

“The trends of increasing numbers of clients and high cost of financial assistance are not sustainable and must be reduced.”

The Minister said the Financial Assistance Reform Group will consist of:

  • Wayne Carey [Chairperson]
  • Senator Jason Hayward, JP
  • Tinee Furbert, MP
  • Michael Weeks, MP
  • Susan Jackson, MP
  • Wendall Brown
  • Wentworth Christopher
  • Tina Nash
  • Lynn Gordon
  • Dianna Taylor
  • Komlah Foggo-Wilson
  • Judy Lowe-Teart

“The Financial Assistance Reform Group will be required to prepare a summary report of its conclusions and recommendations for submission to the Minister of Social Development and Sports as soon as possible,” the Minister said.

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to inform my Honourable colleagues about the establishment of a Financial Assistance Reform Group to undertake a review of the Financial Assistance Programme.

Mr. Speaker, The Financial Assistance Programme has been in existence for many years. The Programme evolved from the old Parish Assistance Act of 1968, and was formerly administered under the Parish Vestry and Parish Council System.

From its inception, the purpose of the Financial Assistance Programme was [and still is] to ensure that all Bermudians have the financial and social means to maximize their potential as viable members of our society.

Mr. Speaker, The Financial Assistance Programme is currently underpinned by four key pieces of legislation, namely the Financial Assistance Act 2001, the Financial Assistance Regulations 2004, the Child Day Care Allowance Act 2008 and the Child Day Care Allowance Regulations 2008.

This gives the Financial Assistance Programme a strong legislative framework which enables the Department of Financial Assistance carry out its mandate of ensuring that all Bermudians have the financial and social means to gain, regain and maintain a minimum standard of living.

Mr. Speaker, The Department of Financial Assistance is the public authority which is responsible for assessing the financial needs of Bermudians who apply for financial assistance, and makes awards to eligible and qualified persons based on criteria as outlined in the financial assistance legislation.

Mr. Speaker, In recent years, the Department has seen a sharp increase in number and complexity of client case loads.

For example, the most recent statistics on financial assistance show that the total number of persons in receipt of financial assistance [excluding the child day care allowance programme] was 2,560 in May 2017.

By comparison, the total number of financial assistance clients was 1,332 in October 2011. The total number of persons receiving financial assistance has nearly doubled in the past 6 years.

Mr. Speaker, The cost of administering the Financial Assistance Programme has also increased significantly over the years. The total monthly payout for financial assistance [excluding child day care allowance awards] rose from approximately $2.5M in October 2011 to just over $4.0M in October 2017.

Mr. Speaker, The trends of increasing numbers of clients and high cost of financial assistance are not sustainable and must be reduced.

Mr. Speaker, It was with this objective in mind that Government committed, in the September 2017 Speech from the Throne, to review the Financial Assistance Programme, and to reform the Programme to “reduce abuse, discourage dependency, and ensure that work pays”.

Mr. Speaker, In order to achieve the Throne Speech objective, I am pleased to announce the establishment of a Financial Assistance Reform Group, consisting for the following persons:

  • Wayne Carey [Chairperson]
  • Senator Jason Hayward, JP
  • Tinee Furbert, MP
  • Michael Weeks, MP
  • Susan Jackson, MP
  • Wendall Brown
  • Wentworth Christopher
  • Tina Nash
  • Lynn Gordon
  • Dianna Taylor
  • Komlah Foggo-Wilson
  • Judy Lowe-Teart

Mr. Speaker, The purpose of the Financial Assistance Working Group is to review the Financial Assistance Programme and make recommendations for financial assistance reform.

In particular Mr. Speaker, the Financial Assistance Reform Group will assess the effectiveness of the Financial Assistance Programme with particular emphasis on areas where legislative and/or policy reform may be required to improve service delivery.

Further Mr. Speaker, The Financial Assistance Reform Group will examine options for reducing the number of persons who are dependent on financial assistance and for reducing the overall cost of the Financial Assistance Programme.

In doing so, the Financial Assistance Reform Group will assess the level of abuse of the financial assistance system, and recommend ways to reduce such abuse.

Mr. Speaker, Bermuda has an ageing population. Therefore, the Financial Assistance Reform Group will also spend a part of its time assessing the extent to which the ageing population may result in increasing numbers of seniors on financial assistance, and make recommendations going forward. This aspect will, of course, require consultation with the Ministry of Health, among others.

Mr. Speaker, It will be important for the Financial Assistance Reform Group to identify possible areas for legislative reform as early as possible and make recommendations to the Minister of Social Development and Sports to enable appropriate time for Cabinet to approve such legislative reforms and also allow sufficient time for legislative drafting.

Mr. Speaker, The Financial Assistance Reform Group will be required to prepare a summary report of its conclusions and recommendations for submission to the Minister of Social Development and Sports as soon as possible.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker

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Comments (18)

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  1. Zevon says:

    Man. Six months of that, and Zane could afford to returf a golf course.

    • Rockfish#1and#2 says:

      The fact that he selected W Brown who served on the Port Royal committee is troubling.

  2. campervan says:

    So the OBA were able to meet the needs of increasing numbers of F.A clients while still balancing the budget. Now the PLP want to throw vulnerable people off F.A.
    Things that make you go Hmmmmmmmmm.

  3. Slipnut says:

    Funny how people working In the private sector are subject to drug testing to pay taxes to support people on F/A that use this money to continue to do drugs. Before you brake a nail beating up your keyboard, not all people are taking advantage of the system.

    • Quinton B Butterfield says:

      So all I have to do is fail a drug test to stop paying taxes?

      • Toodle-oo says:

        C’mon , don’t be obtuse . No one gets away without paying taxes of some sort here .
        But if you are refused employment because you can’t pass a drug test you certainly won’t be paying hospital levy or payroll tax.

  4. Mb says:

    Surprised it’s not higher.
    The minister acts like reform can address the high cost…
    I would hope the plp would have a better understanding of why that number is high.
    People simply cant make ends meet with our poor education and health care systems (insane dental copays) and highway robbery by grocers, belco, gas suppliers and telecoms.
    Here u go committee i will do the work for you without costing u a cent:
    1.END 60/40 on fastfood so we can eat at reasonable cost and please dont preach to me about unhealthy…our kids are ‘eating’ soda and chips cos that is all they can afford
    2. No fin assist for those living in family OWNED properties…share the burden of the kids you raised…there are many doing this…
    3. Impose vast rent controls so no more 3000 + pm substd 2 bedrooms, just come up with basic criteria for that level of rent, that will ease rents
    4.fix education …follow nyc example it turned around terrible schools
    5. Eliminate belco unreasonable facility fees
    6. Cap internet fees
    7 review how grocers and wholesalers set prices, and determine if reasonable

    • Up D hill says:

      And what line of business are you in that is robbing the public?

    • Full Moon says:

      8. Pack up and leave when there Is no economy left after 1 – 7 have been effected.

      Alternate 8. Copy Cayman: Make this an attractive place to do business, issue thousands of work permits to folks to come here, create lots of jobs for everyone by doing this, have a bustling and growing economy with a resulting growing tax take.

  5. S.S. says:

    Disgraceful. That is too much. Where do they think this money is coming from? I will be speaking with the members of the reform group about the lowlifes I know who are abusing FA. Kick them off and make them get jobs like the rest of us!!

  6. Full Moon says:

    Now if he could,just do the same with Civil Service…

  7. Triangle Drifter says:

    $4,000,000 in a month!!! Thats nothing. We burn through more than that in less than 8 days just to finance the debt the PLP version 1 left us with.

  8. Onion Jiuce says:

    It’s only taxpayers dollars, when has overspending these ever been a problem in the past. When that runs out …. Just borrow more, and more, and more. Problem solved like last time. Sheesh, no pleasing you people!

  9. Onion says:

    A few months ago the PLP were attacking the OBA for cutting FA.

    What a bunch of hypocrites.

  10. spider says:

    People on FA are the low hanging fruit, instead of going after some of the individuals/companies identified in the Auditor General’s report, suspected of raiding government coffers the PLP pick on the voiceless FA individuals. Hyprocrisy at its worst.
    Cowards!!!

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