Dickinson: Covid-19 benefits top $43m – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Dickinson: Covid-19 benefits top $43m

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About 4,500 people who were on emergency unemployment benefits have returned to work, the Minister of Finance said last night.

Curtis Dickinson said that the scheme has put about $43 million in the hands of 10,100 unemployed people since it started, with $5.51 million sent out last week.

Mr Dickinson added he expected payments to continue on a twice a week schedule, with the next payment on July 10.

He said: “We continue to make progress to resolve problem applications and last week we paid 332 applicants for the first time.”

Mr Dickinson added that he expected the number of people enrolled in the scheme to fall as more people returned to work — and warned that his ministry would take action against people who failed to notify the Department of Workforce Development that they were back at work.

He said: “If this government determines that individuals and employers are not informing us in a timely manner of their return to work, causing the Government to overpay, this government will utilise all of its powers outlined in the regulations to claw back funds.

“If we continue to work together as a community to restart and rebuild our economy it should be viewed as unacceptable and irresponsible for individuals who are back to work and no longer eligible to accept unemployment benefits.”

Mr Dickinson said almost 7,000 people had applied to withdraw money from their pensions through a relief scheme that allowed members of the public to take out up to $12,000 from their funds.

He added 4,382 withdrawal applications had been approved and more than $49 million had been released from funds.

Mr Dickinson said another $2.48 million was removed from pensions as a result of a scheme to let eligible people take out up to 25 per cent of their pensions.

Mr Dickinson said: “It is pleasing to know the recent hardship withdrawal provision under the act has assisted many families over the last few weeks and validates the benefit of this social policy initiative.”

He added that legislation would be tabled in the House of Assembly today to expand the scope of the scheme to those who were ineligible because of their retirement status.

Mr Dickinson said the Government had extended payroll tax relief for bars and restaurants for an additional three months.

He added: “Government is considering expanding this concession further to include restaurants within hotels that are operating under the general hotel licensing regime.”

But he hinted that more tax relief for hotels may not be on the cards.

Mr Dickinson said: “Most hotels are already beneficiaries of significant government concessions, so they don't pay a whole lot in taxes.”

He added that some consideration may be given to extra concessions, but he did not want to “put the cart before the horse”.

Social policy initiative: Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, listens to a question during yesterday's Covid-19 response press conference. Mr Dickinson said he expected the number of people enrolled in the emergency benefits scheme to drop as more people returned to work - and warned that his ministry would take action against those who failed to notify the Department of Workforce Development that they were back at work (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published July 03, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated July 03, 2020 at 1:29 pm)

Dickinson: Covid-19 benefits top $43m

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