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Throne Speech: Families under strain to get more financial help

Vulnerable families could get increased financial aid to help with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tom Oppenheim, the Deputy Governor, said in the Throne Speech on Friday that the Cost of Living (Essential Commodities) Regulations will come into effect this month.

Mr Oppenheim, who delivered the speech on behalf of the Government, said amendments to the Financial Assistance Act 2001 and the accompanying 2004 regulations would see improvements such as changes to allowable expenses and a “Building Blocks” phase to help families through sudden short-term struggles.

Amendments to the Child Day Care Allowance Act 2008 would make more families eligible to receive Government assistance.

He said: “The increasing cost of childcare has added to the economic stresses for parents, and these amendments will allow more parents to receive this vital service, which is fundamental to the economic activity this island needs.”

The Child Day Care Allowance Act offers limited funds for parents to have young children attend preschool during work hours.

Children must be aged under four years, or have not yet started primary school, and parents must have Bermudian status and not exceed a specific maximum income rate.

The Act reduces the load of expensive child care fees from parents who struggle to make ends meet.

It also allows parents more freedom to work without having to skip hours to care for their children.

Mr Oppenheim said that the Schedule for Allowable Expenses, which outlines how much users can receive for pay for resources such as food and rent, will be adjusted to “better reflect realistic costs of goods and services”.

He added that the Building Blocks phase will offer immediate shot-term assistance for problems such as redundancies at work or a family death.

Kelly Hunt, the executive director of the Coalition of the Protection of Children, welcomed the financial assistance and the wider economic recovery plan.

She said: “The introduction of new industries and training opportunities, alongside legislative amendments, will all be important in helping families rebound from the barrage of Covid — not to mention the extreme disparities that existed prior to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, families continue to struggle with the cost of living, so it is noteworthy that this is indeed recognised as ‘immense strains’ in this Throne Speech.”

She added: “Economic growth and efforts to support our most vulnerable are what we are most concerned about.

“Childcare and essential commodities remain issues for low income families, so we are supportive of any relief that can be provided to help people’s access to basic needs.

“Ultimately, government will play a crucial role in our betterment, but it is still up to each of us to contribute to the kind of recovery that the island needs.”

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Published November 07, 2022 at 7:41 am (Updated November 07, 2022 at 7:41 am)

Throne Speech: Families under strain to get more financial help

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