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New plan to cut unemployment announced by economy minister

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Jason Hayward (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Moving more people from unemployment benefit to Financial Assistance will help identify barriers to employment, the economy and labour minister said yesterday.

Jason Hayward said: “Our aim is to transition as much people as we possibly can on to the Financial Assistance benefit rather than the supplemental unemployment benefit.

“And then we have to identify what are the barriers that are in the way for some persons … from enabling them to have a sustainable income, and working to reduce those barriers.”

Mr Hayward explained that supplemental unemployment benefit was paid by the finance ministry, but Financial Assistance was the responsibility of a department in his own ministry.

He was speaking as he highlighted that the new economy and labour ministry’s budget would go up by 12 per cent to just under $74 million.

But Mr Hayward offered little new to ease the cost of living crisis.

He said: “The department will also implement legislative and policy changes supporting Financial Assistance reform.

“These include allowing recipients to retain $2,500 of child support payments received and accept gifts of up to $2,500.

“Additionally, recipients will benefit from implementing personal employment plans, among other policy changes.”

He added that the supplemental unemployment benefit scheme had been extended to August 31, 2022 for people “in need of financial support but who do not qualify for Financial Assistance benefits”

Mr Hayward denied that singling out four key leads in the 31 programmes in the Government’s economic recovery plan was copying a suggestion from the One Bermuda Alliance to narrow the focus to improve the chances of success.

Mr Hayward said: “No, not necessarily.”

He added the four areas that had been given greater emphasis, which included the Tynes Bay incinerator and the opening of casinos, had been highlighted by professional services firm KPMG as of greater economic value.

Mr Hayward said an increase in the population and the ability to produce more home-grown food would help alleviate the jump in the cost of living.

He added that measures in the Budget, such as a cut in payroll tax for the lowest earners and a reduction in vehicle licence fees, would help ease the financial pressure caused by inflation.

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Published March 12, 2022 at 7:15 am (Updated March 12, 2022 at 7:15 am)

New plan to cut unemployment announced by economy minister

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