Financial assistance increased in Budget
Financial Assistance was given a boost in yesterday’s Budget, but the Mirrors programme suffered another heavy cut.
And the Sandys 360 programme received a $2 million grant to offset its construction costs.
According to the 2012/13 Budget, funding for Financial Assistance for the coming year is $39.845 million. Last year, its budget was set at $27.467 million, approximately $10 million lower than the previous year, although it rose to a revised $39.782 million.
Minister of Youth, Family and Sport Glenn Blakeney said there are currently 1,163 people on financial assistance, with each financial assistance worker carrying a caseload of 143 clients.
He said Government plans to amend regulations to allow seniors who are homeowners, or have an interest in property, to be eligible for benefits, which accounts for an additional $250,000 in spending.
While Financial Assistance garnered a higher budget, the budget for the Mirrors programme under the same Ministry saw a cut of nearly a quarter, falling from $1.694 million in 2011/12 to $1.302 million in the coming year.
The programme already suffered cuts in last year’s Budget, with funding falling from $2.2 million.
Premier Paula Cox said: “ The Mirrors Programme will continue to serve the needs of youth aged 15 to 18 by challenging them to achieve productive outcomes that are free from gang activity and antisocial behaviour.
“To that end, Mirrors will engage these youth through its community training sessions, including one residential session, and ten follow through sessions.
“In addition, Mirrors will also focus on youth at middle school level aged 11 to 14 via its Coaching for Success programme and will deliver coaching for success courses at both Sandys Secondary Middle School and Whitney Institute Middle School.”
Kerry Judd, of the New Beginnings Education Trust, said that while the cut may seem disappointing, she was pleased to hear that the residential programme remained in place.
“I am extremely pleased that was allowed to continue,” she said. “That’s the programme that I was concerned about last year. It does so much good for the young people and the community.
“I have not spoken to the Mirrors staff yet, and while I’m sure they are disappointed in the budget cut, I know they have the capability of turning $1 into $20.
“I know that they will continue to do what needs to be done so that Mirrors can continue.”
Following yesterday’s announcement of a budget increase for Financial Assistance, Minister of Youth, Families and Sport Glenn Blakeney revealed new figures about Financial Assistance.
As of December, 2011, a total of 1,363 people were receiving Financial Assistance, including:
l522 senior citizens, 21 percent of whom are in a rest or nursing home.
l523 people with disabilities.
l188 people with low earnings.
l130 people who are able bodied but unemployed.
The average caseload for a single Financial Assistance worker is approximately 143 clients.
Mr Blakeney also said that a total of 300 parents are receiving a Child Day Care allowance, with a total of 359 children in the programme.