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Financial assistance eligibility could be expanded

Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, at a press conference (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Eligibility requirements for the financial assistance system will be relaxed if a policy paper’s recommendations are taken up, MPs were told yesterday.

Jason Hayward, the economy and labour minister, told the House of Assembly the policy paper would be tabled aimed at creating a more "lucid, effective and efficient system" that improves access to social protections.

Measures to come include increasing eligibility and benefits for families seeking child daycare allowance and creating a scheme to provide short-term support to individuals facing sudden financial hardship, with changes to come in this legislative session.

Asset limits and restrictions on saving will also be relaxed, to enable people to better transition out of financial assistance.

The changes will also see able-bodied people who have been on financial assistance for more than seven years receive a “standard benefit award” that will include food allowance, health insurance and a room rate.

Mr Hayward said the changes would:

• expand eligibility

• allow recipients to retain partial income from work

• improve support to assist Bermudian children with greater access to child daycare and child maintenance

• add new funding schemes to allow the receipt of “gifts“

• create short-term funding for sudden hardships

He said a review of asset rules to enhance the ability of individuals and families to become financially stable is also being considered in the proposed reform initiatives.

He added: “An adjustment to asset limits will allow Bermudians to save and improve their financial standings to prepare for the day that they can transition off of the system.

He said allowable expenses would also be amended in order to reflect current economic market costs.

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Published May 06, 2023 at 7:41 am (Updated May 06, 2023 at 7:41 am)

Financial assistance eligibility could be expanded

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