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Benefits bill for last Covid-19 lockdown topped $5m

Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

A bill of $5.3 million for unemployment benefits in just three months highlighted the economic impact of the latest coronavirus outbreak, the finance minister said yesterday.

Curtis Dickinson said benefits had been paid to 4,938 people since March and the next cycle of payments was scheduled for June.

This financial year started in March, just a week after the island went into its second stay-at-home order and Mr Dickinson said awaited the figures for the first month of the financial year.

Mr Dickinson said a slump in retail sales in February was because of “very strong” retail sales in the run up and over the last festive season.

He added: “Coming on the back of a strong end of year last year, it is not a surprise to see some softness in January and February as a result of people having spent healthily through November and December.

“Similarly, I’ve heard real restate is doing well – again, the first month’s numbers are not out yet, so I can’t comment on the quantum of that activity and how it affects the Government’s coffers.”

But Mr Dickinson said: “What I can say is we have done some work with Minister Furbert at the Cabinet Office to streamline the process.

“I think that has led to an acceleration in the Government receiving its share of receipts from those transactions.”

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Published May 25, 2021 at 7:55 am (Updated May 25, 2021 at 7:22 am)

Benefits bill for last Covid-19 lockdown topped $5m

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