Coalition On New Financial Assistance Rules

July 15, 2013

The new requirements surrounding financial Assistance are the “kind of creative solutions we need in the face of incredibly complex social and economic circumstances,” the Coalition for the Protection of Children said.

Last month Parliamentarians approved new legislation which will require recipients of financial assistance to attend life skills programmes if deemed necessary, as well as require able-bodied recipients who have not found employment after three months to complete up to 15 hours of community service weekly.

Speaking before the vote, Minister Wayne Scott said the “stark reality” is that the number of persons applying for Financial Assistance is “at an all-time high,” with the fourth quarter of 2012-13 the highest expenditure on record, with financial assistance and child day care totaling around $10.7 million.

“The intent of these changes is to offer more help in the first instance, and to foster more accountability and responsibility on the part of persons who receive Financial Assistance and Child Day Care allowance benefits,” said Minister Scott.

The Coalition for the Protection of Children said, “The passing of the Amendment to the Financial Assistance act represent an acknowledge by the Department of Financial Assistance as well as the Legislature that more measures needed to be put in place to help individuals and families relying on government support.

“If programs such as life skills and money management can aid in transitioning clients from dependency to self-sufficiency, then surely this is better than continuing with the same methods which have not been effective in terms of positive client outcomes ineffective. However, more importantly, individuals with limited skills should be encouraged and supported by Financial Assistance to return to school to upgrade their skills.

“Difficulties are often not about poor parenting or bad budgeting but the inability to access jobs that provide a livable wage. Unskilled jobs do not pay wages adequate enough to afford a basic standard of living, leaving clients to still require financial assistance subsidization.

“Requiring weekly job search forms for jobs that either do not exist, for which clients are unqualified for or pay miniscule wages is futile. If individuals are instead supported by financial assistance while they upgrade their skills, this is a win-win situation and better use of government’s welfare funding.

“Encouraging a return to education would be superior, but the requirement for mandatory community service is also a good idea. If individuals need government assistance due to unemployment, then they can also provide a valuable service to the community during this time. For example, if parents volunteer at their child’s school, it builds a connection between the parent, the school and the child – benefiting the family, benefiting the school and benefiting the community. It is a triple win.

“These are exactly the kind of creative solutions we need in the face of incredibly complex social and economic circumstances. Our world, the global society and technology has drastically made changes in business and services provided. We must also make drastic changes in the way we provide services to Bermuda’s most vulnerability to ensure that positive client outcomes remain at the forefront of all service provision.”

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  1. Finally it seems as we have a minister with a brain,because prior to now I did not understand how on earth a person that needs assistance would need to go do a job search.

    It is very demeaning to ask an individual to go get a job search sheet filled in every time they get assistance,when there are no jobs available and the jobs that should be made available are taken by foreigners. we live in critical times and Bermudians who are educated and skilled are finding it hard to survive,so how much more for those who not so educated.

    I also find it appalling that home owners who have been made redundant or have become unemployed due to business closures,find themselves not being able to meet their mortgage requirements and therefore are force to sell their homes or loose them.It is more appalling that home owners who are also tax payers do not qualify for financial assistance because they own a home.

    It was under the P.L.P that this was changed slightly and allowed seniors that are home owners to qualify if they are indeed in financial difficulty,but the working class who are under 65 and finding it difficult do not qualify if they are home owners,this is a travesty as these same people can only get financial assistance once they loose their homes.

    It is at that point that they can qualify to get financial assistance to help pay rent,utilities,child care and the like,in short this is utter stupidity.If these same folk can get anywhere from $1,500 and up in assistance, they should have been able to do so before the lost their homes.

    The fact that people are now ask to give community service for their part of receiving financial assistance,is a good thing and I feel it should also off set some of governments expenditure,if the community services are rendered in areas that government would normally pay for these services.