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Report: Pandemic caused increase in people on financial assistance

An average of about 40 more people a month received financial assistance in 2021-22 compared with the previous year, the House of Assembly heard on Friday.

Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, said there was an increase in the number of clients because of the impacts of Covid-19, particularly in the “able-bodied” category;

He introduced the 2021-22 Annual Report of the Department of Financial Assistance to MPs.

Mr Hayward said it also showed a reduction in recoverable debt and a decrease in the number of child daycare recipients as a result of the Bright Start programme.

He told MPs: “The report illustrates a five-year performance trend for the Department of Financial Assistance.

“It remains that the categories from the highest participants to lowest remains pensioners, disabled, earnings low and able-bodied unemployed, year on year.

“For fiscal year 2021-22 the average number of recipients of financial assistance services totalled 2,226, an increase from the average of 2,184 recorded in the year prior.

“The recipient categories are 1,036 pensioners and seniors, 776 persons with disabilities, 210 persons with low earnings and 204 able-bodies unemployed.

“The monthly average number of children that comprised the Child Day Care Allowance programme in 2021-22 was 132, compared with 145 from the prior reporting period.

“This decrease was mainly attributable to the commencement of the Bright Start programme commissioned by the Ministry of Education.”

The minister said spending on grants to support FA recipients amounted to $47.6 million.

He added: “The highest expenditures are rent, nursing homes, food and insurance.

“Spending remained consistent with the prior fiscal year, while persons on assistance numbers increased.

“An increase in persons on assistance continued as a result of Covid-19 and the main categories impacted by the pandemic were able-bodied unemployed and low-earnings persons.

“The average FA cost of an able-bodied unemployed or earnings low person is lower than the average FA cost of a pensioner or person with disabilities, thus an increased number of recipients does not necessarily equate to an increase in spending.”

Mr Hayward said: “It is the goal of this ministry to go a step further to position Bermudians to achieve gainful and respectful employment opportunities.

“Initiatives will continue in earnest by utilising services provided by the Department of Workforce Development to enable recipients to be better positioned for employment opportunities in the local workforce.”

To see the report and the minister’s statement in full, click on the PDFs under “Related Media”.

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Published December 12, 2022 at 7:41 am (Updated December 12, 2022 at 7:41 am)

Report: Pandemic caused increase in people on financial assistance

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