Programmes For Financial Assistance Clients

February 12, 2013

The recent Throne Speech revealed that Government will incorporate life skills programmes — such as money management and parenting skills — for people receiving financial assistance or the child day care allowance.

In addition, able-bodied persons receiving financial assistance will have to participate in community service if they have not found employment three months after receiving their initial grant.

The recently released financial statements indicate that Government spent some $38.7 million on financial assistance for the year ended 31 March 2012 — around $106,000 per day. This was an increase of approximately $1.27 million from the previous year.

2012 financial assistance charts jpg-001

The announcement appeared to be well received by those in attendance on the Cabinet Office grounds during Friday’s Throne Speech; as they applauded six times during the speech, and two of those times were for the financial assistance initiatives.

The latest statistics of persons receiving financial assistance — from December 2011 — indicated there were 1363 persons on the programme.

522 of them were seniors, 523 people with disabilities, 188 were low earners, and 130 were able-bodied unemployed. The number of parents receiving the child day care allowance as of that time was 300, with a total of 359 children.

In the last budget, which was under the PLP Government, the allotment for the child day care allowance was reduced from $3,840,000 to $2,500,000, and the income threshold for eligibility was reduced from $70,000 to $50,000.

The relevant portion of Friday’s Throne Speech said:

To manage the challenges associated with some financial assistance clients, the Government will introduce amendments to the Financial Assistance Act 2001 and the Child Day Care Allowance Act 2008 requiring mandatory life skills programmes, such as money management and parenting skills courses.

These programmes will be required as a condition of award for clients deemed by the Department of Financial Assistance to require such services.

Since some applicants seeking financial assistance are either known or suspected substance abusers, the Government will introduce amendments to the Financial Assistance Act 2001 to provide for a mandatory referral through the Bermuda Assessment and Referral Centre where it is determined by a Financial Assistance Social Worker that a client could benefit from an assessment and treatment services.

Further amendments to the Financial Assistance Act 2001 will require unemployed, able-bodied persons, who would otherwise qualify for financial assistance, to participate in community service activities as a condition of continued eligibility.

This condition would apply if they have not found employment three months after receiving their initial grant.

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Comments (20)

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  1. Kim Smith says:

    Excellent! Finally a plan to get people involved in their own lives… and personal responsibility.

    “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

    Let there be no doubt, we are responsible for our own lives and for the decisions we make. The Government social assistance should be temporary and only for those who are making tangible efforts to help themselves.

    • Union Member says:

      This is low hanging fruit. Seniors received FA 2x more than the rest of the population. Just looking at the numbers above Seniors and Disabeled people are 77% of the people that are on FA. Yes policies for the other 23 as highlighted in the Throne speech are needed, however if the OBA wants to really relieve the taxpayer or make the most significant dent, policies that equip Seniors and the Disabled are necessary. I will even take a guess and say that the PLP decreased the child care allowance to give money to the rising senior population.

  2. Ridiculous says:

    This is ridiculous!! Yes we have to prevent people from abusing the system but Financial Assistance has gone to far!! Who are they to mandate how people live their lives? Mandated community service!! Are you kidding me!! It’s like putting a band-aide on a amputated leg!! Instead look at why people can’t find employment? Why are people working full-time and can’t afford child-care? Why is it that locals cannot afford to live in their own country? The answer is not FURTHER restrictions on people asking for HELP!! This whole article makes me so sad!!

    • hmm says:

      They arent telling people how to live their lives, but if you want government’s money, you have to follow government’s rules, otherwise dont apply for assistance if you feel you are too good to do community service. SIMPLE

      • Brad says:

        Amen to that! @Ridiculous, you had better thank your lucky stars that THIS TAXPAYER isn’t the one handing out the chores in this “work for benefits” program! If I had my way, anyone taking MY TAX dollars would be required to put in just as hard a day as I do! And that means doing TWO jobs to feed my family, not just one part-time service project!! The majority of you people taking advantage of this system MAKE ME SICK!!!

    • Richard says:

      I take it your not a tax payer? All these little girls having babies some of them think its a game also some of them have no real home structure therefore these programs will help them get a better quilty of life.

      • Educated Fish Eater says:

        Richard please realize the statistics for teen pregnancy is going down, mult year downward trend I may add.

  3. Justine says:

    Could not agree more Kim Smith. I’m all for giving a hand up, not a hand out! Just think of the new skills people can get, new friends they can make – this could develop cross island communities!

    Great move! Can we start people on the railway trail???

  4. DarkSideOfTheMoon says:

    Wow, I don’t even know what to say. This is an awesome idea… #likesOBAaLittleBetter

  5. LaVerne Furbert says:

    95% of the people on financial assistance are there because they can’t find jobs. How are those programmes going to assist FA clients in finding jobs.

    • OneLoveBDA says:

      A good percentage of them are unemployable that’s why they can’t obtain nor keep employment. As it stands they just need to show they have applied to 20 jobs per week whether they are qualified for them or not, and they get their monthly stipend. This practise makes no sense at all. Having them learn new skill sets will benefit everyone, the taxpayers and the persons requiring assistance. It will assist them with getting off assistance at some point. I wish I could in good conscience sit on my arse and receive government money. But no, I proudly and gratefully work two jobs to keep a roof over my head and I don’t have any children (can’t afford them) nor do I live a lavish lifestyle. The cost of living on this rock continues to escalate to no avail – its too friggin expensive. Any improvement is better than the same old!

      • Rhonda says:

        My heart goes out to you, it is shameful you need to work two jobs to kept a roof over your head, that being the case should you lose one of those jobs, of course through no fault of you own, and unable to find another quickly…you would be requiring FA to survive, don’t you find something wrong with that picture……as a human, child birth should be a right, …a society that is so expensive that the natives are unable to comfortably have a family is shameful…again don’t you see something wrong with that picture….

  6. Bermy Gooner says:

    “In the last budget, which was under the PLP Government, the allotment for the child day care allowance was reduced from $3,840,000 to $2,500,000, and the income threshold for eligibility was reduced from $70,000 to $50,000.”

    This is considred to be “standing strong” for struggling Bdians? I thought the OBA was going to be the one to enact such “deep and austere” cuts to such social programs?

    I am so confused.

    And I agree that aLL ABLE BODIED persons should do some form of community service while on the dole for greater than 3 months. As former Premiere\ Ms. Cox stated at one point, Bermuda needs to be a workfair society as opposed to a welfare society.

    Nothing is free in this world and there are no such things as free lunches.

    • Kristin says:

      Actually it’s a great idea to HELP the person. To go look for work with a huge block of emptiness on you resume is more difficult than if you are able to say, Well I wasn’t in paid employment, but I was working here. If you are volunteering at a charity, you are engaging in skills and career development.

      It’s a win win – the charity gets help, the individual gets to beef up their resume and skills.

      Now hopefully, the government has connected with the nonprofit community to ensure that the volunteer jobs are meaningful and that the sector can handle a huge influx of people – when government mandated community service for students the charities weren’t ready to deal with all of those volunteers!

      But in any event, it’s a great idea. Let’s hope it’s implemented properly!

      • Kristin says:

        Sorry I must have replied to the wrong post! Was trying to reply to ‘Ridiculous’. :)

  7. Erica RM says:

    I agree this is a great idea. It encourages poeple to do something meaningful and yes at times this may include gaining new life skills that will improve their marketability! Getting people more involved in their community will only make them feel connected to it…and when you feel connected to something you CARE about it…

    Sorry I do not see any negatives to this idea. Kristin you are right it will all come down to implementation which will in turn ensure effectiveness.

  8. A thought for you says:

    Why don’t Government have them clean their offices instead of paying outside people to do it

  9. Triangle Drifter says:

    A great program & incentive to work. A number of states already have work for help programs. Some take it a step further by limiting the time one can be on it i.e. just because you are getting assistance & are doing community service does not mean that you stop looking for a job.

    If you don’t get a job in a certain time the assistance is cut off.

  10. Observer says:

    There are plenty of people that abuse the system, they look at financial assistance as a hand out and not help up. They choose to spend their money on other things that aren’t necessarily a necessity. I agree with the OBA, there are addicts that are on financial assistance. They are still getting high, this cost money. In regards to community service, we cannot live for free. So yes, help the community as the government pays your rent, bills and daycare if you aren’t working.

  11. RIO says: