The Government is expected today to announce procedures via which those qualified to benefit from its measures to ease financial strain brought on by the current COVID-19 pandemic may begin to access relief.
Social Development and Family Services Minister Camille Robinson-Regis said yesterday application forms will soon be available on various ministry websites, via which persons suffering reduced or lost income, or in need of financial support at this time, may access the services.
At a news conference on Monday, the minister announced adjustments to the food card programme as well as additional relief measures, including up to $2,500 in rent support for up to six months for persons who have suffered loss of income. Robinson-Regis said the measures were necessary to support and protect the vulnerable during the pandemic.
Among the new measures and in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, food support will be offered to families with children registered to receive meals under the School Nutrition Programme, who do not have a food card.
All schools are currently shut until April 30, as part of a collective effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Robinson-Regis said all 41 MPs have been contacted to visit the ministry’s head office to receive food support cards valued at $510. This represents 2,050 families/households and “will be implemented as an immediate measure in the first instance”, she said.
Each household/family will receive one card, and each recipient will be required to sign a statutory declaration that they are not at present in receipt of a food card.
“Recipients are asked not to dispose of their temporary card, as these cards will be topped up for an additional two months during the month of April 2020,” stated a release from the Ministry of Social Development, following Monday’s news conference.
Existing food card recipients will receive their top-up during April, and the ministry will continue to work with MPs, “who will be given food support cards to distribute to the remainder of families who are registered on the school feeding programme but did not obtain a card in the initial batch of 50 cards”.
The ministry noted that “each person who collects a card on behalf of a family will be expected to sign a statutory declaration”.
Lost income relief
Persons who have been retrenched or are now experiencing reduced income are being offered temporary food support cards valued at $510 for a period of three months.
This will be collaborated with the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development to “capture data to verify the employment status of persons and to ensure that such persons are not already in receipt of food cards”.
Rental assistance up to $2,500 per month will be provided for an initial three months and up to six months, as required. “If this support is required beyond the six months, the rental assistance grant will be reduced to $1,500 and then a further reduction of $1,000 for any additional months required. The total period of rental assistance must not exceed 12 months,” the ministry stated.