Benefit programme for people left jobless by Covid to continue
A Government benefit programme for Bermudians left unemployed by Covid-19 will continue to be offered until May 2022, the Government has announced.
Jason Hayward, the Minister of Labour, said a recent labour force survey had highlighted the impact of the pandemic – and the ongoing need for support.
The supplementary unemployment benefit scheme had been scheduled to conclude at the end of last month.
The programme – which is separate from the main Covid-19 unemployment benefit – offers financial support for Bermudians and spouses of Bermudians who do not otherwise meet the threshold for the Financial Assistance.
Mr Hayward said the supplemental benefits programme included a means test to ensure that the available funds go to those who need it.
He added: “It is a temporary lifeline for those that are in financial need.
“All supplemental unemployment benefit recipients will receive monthly payments.
“Those recipients who already have health insurance will receive a flat monthly stipend, and persons without health insurance will receive coverage by the health insurance department in addition to their flat monthly payment.”
More than $1 million has already been paid out through the programme since it’s inception last September, with 127 recipients receiving $1,520 per month.
He urged those who need support to apply online or through the Department of Financial Assistance.
Mr Hayward also said the Government was working hard to address the ongoing issue of unemployment in Bermuda.
He said: “The unemployment rate is unacceptable and we are actively trying to reduce that unemployment rate.
“We have provided training and job readiness skills to over 650 individuals since we began phase 1 of our re-employment programme.
“From an immigration standpoint, we have also worked on additional scrutinisation of work permits and we continue to have a number of closed categories, and that is specifically designed to create the capacity that is required for Bermudians to be absorbed into the workforce.”
Mr Hayward urged those who are unemployed to ensure they are registered with the Department of Workforce Development.
The 2020 Labour Force Survey Report, released late last month found that almost one in ten Bermudians were unemployed with Black Bermudians being hardest hit by the pandemic-induced recession.
The survey also showed that the overall unemployment rate was 7.9 per cent, which equated to 2,891 people - up from 3.8 per cent or 1,394 people a year earlier.