Video: Minister On Financial Assistance Reform

November 15, 2017 | 16 Comments

[Updated] Minister of Social Development & Sports Zane DeSilva held a press conference today [Nov 15] discussing Financial Assistance Reform.

The press conference has just concluded and we will have additional information later on, and in the meantime the 9-minute live video replay is below.

Minister DeSilva said the amount of people receiving financial assistance has nearly doubled in the past 6 years, as the most recent statistics 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, as compared to 1,332 in October 2011.

“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 Minister added, saying the “trends of increasing numbers of clients and high cost of financial assistance are not sustainable and must be reduced.”

The Minister then announced the member of a Financial Assistance Reform Group, which will review the programme and make recommendations for financial assistance reform, with the members being Wayne Carey [Chairperson], Senator Jason Hayward, MP Tinee Furbert, MP Michael Weeks, MP Susan Jackson, Wendall Brown, Wentworth Christopher, Tina Nash, Lynn Gordon, Dianna Taylor, Komlah Foggo-Wilson, and Judy Lowe-Teart.

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Update 2.05pm: Minister DeSilva’s remarks:

Good Morning and thank you for joining me.

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

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.

In recent years, the Department has seen a sharp increase in the 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 numbers 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.

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 possible abuse, reduce dependency, and assist those out of work – to get work.

I am pleased to announce the establishment of a Financial Assistance Reform Group, consisting of the following persons, some of whom are present here today:

  • 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 purpose of the Financial Assistance Working Group is to review the Financial Assistance Programme and make recommendations for financial assistance reform.

In particular, the Financial Assistance Reform Group shall assess the effectiveness of the Financial Assistance Programme in achieving its objectives, with particular emphasis on areas where legislative and/or policy reform may be required to improve service delivery.

Bermuda has an ageing population, and the Financial Assistance Reform Group shall also assess the extent to which the ageing population could result in increasing numbers of seniors on financial assistance, and to make recommendations going forward. This aspect will, of course, require consultation with our colleagues at the Ministry of Health and others.

It will be important for the Financial Assistance Reform Group to make recommendations for legislative reform as early as possible to enable appropriate time for Cabinet to approve such reforms and time for legislative drafting.

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.

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Comments (16)

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  1. Onion Jiuce says:

    Campaign to reform Zane.

  2. Jus' Wonderin' says:

    Complete JOKE!

  3. Comfortably numb says:

    If Zane really wants to reduce the numbers on financial assistance all he has to do is mandate all clients surrender their passports while on FA, returnable only for medical reasons. Watch those numbers fall…….

    • Good Stuff says:

      I hear you loud and clear, but it’s hard to restrict someone’s freedom to travel because they need a bit of help. Limiting someone’s ability to enjoy life based on their income is a slippery slope.

      There’s gotta be a better way.

      • My unbiased opinion says:

        If you are traveling, you are unavailable to work, therefore you shouldn’t be receiving benefits. I don’t think you can’t stop people from traveling but payments should not be made during that period.

    • Wahoo says:

      That would do it. Same goes for dead beat dads.

  4. nerema says:

    So it was the OBA who spent more on caring for poor people and the PLP who want to reduce the amount spent on caring for poor people. The PLP: the party of austerity.

  5. Fisherman says:

    The Emergency housing on Southside, St David’s is filled to capacity. There is a dumpster outside of the former Police Barrack’s since the Guatemalans have moved out,are plans being made to use this building for Emergency housing as well. If so, Community should be made aware

  6. jt says:

    Of course the best way to address this is through job creation. We’ve still heard nothing – not a thing – on PLP plans for this. (and more CS jobs tax payer paid positions do not count).

  7. Rambling Rose says:

    FA is to easy. I know of someone collecting FA. Working part time and got a partner living in the house when he’s not supposed to be
    Hire more people to go out and surprise check every single person on FA until it’s sorted
    Bet the amount will go down by half

  8. Hmmm says:

    Maybe have a liveable wage and affordable rent and there wouldnt be so many people in this situation! These employers pay crap wages and expect us to still eat and have a roof over our heads

  9. Rockfish#1and#2 says:

    Oh dear….the Port Royal duo of De Silva and Brown have teamed up again?

  10. rene says:

    Bermuda needs to implement unemployment insurance similar to what they have in the USA. It should be funded by working persons out of a reserve set asise for unemployment. and this fund should be seperate from FA. On the one hand you have persons who have temporary job losses due to the economy and on the other you have persons who may have no job skills. The two should not be confused and the lack of preparedness of government to fund short term job losses is problematic. It is predictable and reserves can be set aside. Its not enough for government to say FA is unstainable. Its because they didnt prepare for it.

  11. Mika says:

    Ya all sound like it’s communist Russia everybody gets the same bowl of rice a month ……..

  12. Alafiyah says:

    So childcare expense is still ongoing? This was a PLP Dr. Brown promise to win the election. This should be seriously discussed by your appointed committee. Are there more child payments awarded to young people, than Seniors? What is the weekly payout (per child)for daycare vs to monthly payments to Seniors? And, if fathers and/or some mothers are paying child support to the parent caring for the child(ren), where is that money going? No government should be the sole custodian of creating a welfare system? Most of the elderly cannot work or are unemployable. Youth should (after a period of time) be able make a living (seniors have worked all their lives)They have paid their for decades.

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