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Dickinson: Newly unemployed to get benefits this week

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Benefits being paid: Curtis Dickinson, Minister of Finance (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Digital nomad success: Jason Hayward, Minister of Labour, says 508 people have been approved to work remotely from Bermuda for a year. More than 200 are already on the Island. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Fifty staff at bars, nightclubs and members’ clubs who lost their jobs because of Covid-19 restrictions should get their benefits from the Government this week, the finance minister said last night.

Curtis Dickinson said at a press conference that a further 110 applicants for help were still being assessed.

Mr Dickinson said the emergency payments, to a maximum of $500 a week covering a two-week period, could be extended if restrictions against the pandemic continue past the deadline of December 22.

Employees put out of work by mandatory quarantine are also eligible for assistance, which Mr Dickinson said would be paid biweekly from this Friday.

He added: “The benefit payout will be calculated at 60 per cent of an individual’s remuneration with a maximum of $500 per week.”

He said were 63 application for that aid package now under review, with 37 more awaiting employer input.

Mr Dickinson said the Government, which paid out about $60 million in mass unemployment benefits during the height of the lockdown this year, was now being “very targeted towards specific parts of our economy” in its aid.

He added: “Unless we move back to the place where there is a shutting down of the island, which I do not foresee, then we will continue to be targeted.”

Jason Hayward, the labour minister, said the Government’s one-year residential programme had received 587 applications, with 508 approved.

He added: “Of the approved applications, 244 are currently enjoying life in Bermuda and contributing daily to the local economy.”

Mr Hayward said some one-year residents wanted to remain on the island for a second year and they can apply for an extension after six months’ residence.

He said Government now has about 110 Bermudians in various training and employment programmes offered by the Department of Workforce Development, with extra training to be offered in the New Year.

Erica Smith, the executive director of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, said the BEDC has set aside a further $1 million in “emergency grant relief” for the businesses hit by restrictions on bars, nightclubs and members’ clubs.

All will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Starting today, BEDC will accept applications online for help with overhead expenses such as rent, utilities, social insurance and health insurance premiums, at www.bedc.bm.

The support does not apply to salaries.

Only BEDC members are eligible, but non-members can register at no cost before finishing their applications.

Maximum grants available are $5,000 to $7,000, calculated on revenue from Decent 2019 to November 2020.

The amount of support granted will be validated through invoices and balance sheets.

Ms Smith added: “The Covid-19 emergency grant will be in place until the funds are exhausted, or until deemed no longer necessary.”

She said close to $3 million had been paid out to date from the $12 million extra funding allocated to the BEDC in April to bail out small and medium businesses hit by the pandemic.

A further $1 million from the BEDC’s own capital budget had been “maxed out”.

Ms Smith said 130 businesses had been helped so far, but an “upturn in applications” was expected for the traditionally slow months of January, February and March.

She said the BEDC Business Sustainability and Continuity Funding Programme launched in April would be expanded further to provide more business support.

Dickinson: No new taxes

The finance minister predicted that there would be no new taxes and no increases in taxes in next year’s Government Budget.

Curtis Dickinson, who will produce a pre-Budget report before the end of the year, said: “I don’t expect the Budget will be extraordinarily controversial from a revenue perspective because I am not intending to introduce any new taxes or raise any taxes.”

He said the Budget for 2021-2022 will be tabled in the House of Assembly in late February and comes into effect on April 1.

He added that Ministries are currently preparing their individual budgets which will be submitted to the finance ministry shortly.

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Published December 17, 2020 at 8:45 am (Updated December 17, 2020 at 8:45 am)

Dickinson: Newly unemployed to get benefits this week

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