Social Services Launches Incentive to Work Programme

BRADES – A pilot project to put social service benefit recipients back into the workforce was launched on Thursday, April 30, 2015 at the Lookout Community Centre.

Officials in attendance at the Incentive to Work Programme launch were Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services Elijah Silcott and Head of the Governor’s Office Tony Bates.

The six-month project is being funded by the Department for International Development (DfID) and will put 10 people, who are completely reliant on social benefits to live, back into the work force.

Social Welfare Officer Areana Syers, said she was proud to be a part of the project which aims to give people a hand up rather than a handout. She acknowledged the contributions of former premier Reuben T. Meade who championed the development of the project and applauded the current administration for following through with the plan.

PS Silcott explained the IWP was a recommendation coming out of a Social Welfare Review Consultation conducted by Greg McTaggart in 2013. Currently welfare recipients receive EC$900 per month. For the 10 who will now be employed they will receive an additional $300 direct to their bank accounts.

The PS said following the six months, a full evaluation and review will be conducted to ascertain what needs to be adjusted to continue the project, which he noted DfID was keen to do. They have also ascertained that a total of 48 people currently receiving benefits could be capable of going back to work.

Each participant will be required to sign a work agreement, go through orientation and commit to working as scheduled. Syers said a protocol has been established to assist both the workers and employers with the transition. This includes policies on health and safety and conflict resolution.

The businesses who have committed to employing the 10 are St. John’s Day Care, Arthur Meade, Environmental Health, Deepak’s Grocery, Cassell’s Designs, Golden Years Home, Grand View Bed & Breakfast, Juliette Greenaway, John A. Allen, Donna Henry and Hon. Opposition Leader Reuben T. Meade.

The programme begins on May 4, 2015.