Despite claims of job creation in the past two-and-a-half-years, the Keith Mitchell-led administration in St. George’s has confirmed that more persons are now under government’s welfare programme.
This was revealed by Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Senator Simon Stiell during a post-Cabinet press briefing.
He disclosed that government has seen a significant increase in the number of people receiving support through the Support for Education Empowerment Development (SEED) Programme which seeks to offer assistance to “those that are most vulnerable” in the society.
Sen. Stiell reported that in 2013 there were 5,391 SEED Beneficiaries and at the end of October 2015 that number increased by 1,690 additional persons and that a further increase of 875 was anticipated by the end of November.
He told reporters that there has been “increased assistance to vulnerable families” on the island through the social security programme.
The Government Member also stated that the amount of assistance being provided under the programme has significantly increased with greater focus being placed on children and the elderly.
Under the previous SEED Programme up to two children per household in vulnerable families were eligible for assistance.
However, Sen. Stiell said this is now doubled to a maximum of four children with a maximum payment of $400.00 monthly per household.
“Four hundred dollars per household can make a significant difference in these difficult times,” Sen. Stiell said.
Fifty dollars per month is provided to each child at the pre-school level, primary school children will receive $75.00, $100.00 for secondary school children, and those at the tertiary level are being given $200.00. With regards to the elderly, under the previous system one person was receiving support.
According to Sen. Stiell this has now been increased to two elderly members of the same household.
However, he said the monetary support of $400 monthly is offered to elderly persons who are not employed and are not in receipt of a pension.
Sen. Stiell disclosed that to date approximately $8.5M has been spent on the SEED Programme by the ruling New National Party (NNP) regime of PM Mitchell.