The Government of Montserrat continues to roll out initiatives to support residents impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The crisis, which is both a health and socio-economic one has found more people in need of financial as well as human resource assistance to manage.
The Social Services Department, with funding through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MoFEM), has been implementing a ‘COVID-19 SOCIAL BENEFIT SUPPORT’ Programme, which includes several packages of assistance, according to a release from the Government Information Unit.
The ‘COVID-19 Social Benefit Support’ programme covers the following:
- Extension of the Meals on Wheels Service – This service is extended to include any identified person who would benefit from having a hot meal.
- Medication collection and delivery – The Social Services Department and the Montserrat Red Cross volunteers have been assisting persons with the collection of their medication. Where possible the pharmacy will provide a three-month supply.
- Red Cross Delivery service – Anyone can use this service. You will order your groceries from the supermarket and the Red Cross will collect your money and deliver your shopping.
- Monthly Food Package – This assistance is for persons who are low income earners, and persons who are in quarantine who are unable to access food. This will be offered for three months, in the first instance.
- Social Income Support/Unemployment Benefit ($900.00) – Due to the shutdown, a number of persons are now unemployed and would need assistance as they are not able to work. In these cases, the Social Services Department will offer a basic income support or unemployment benefit of $900.00 per month for the next three months, in the first instance.
The criteria for assistance under the Monthly Food Package and the Monthly Unemployment Benefit are established.
The following persons will qualify for food packages:
- Single low income earners (below $900);
- Large family low income earners;
- Persons in quarantine that are unable to access food;
All persons who meet the criteria, regardless of nationality, will be assisted. However, please note that, public officers, other statutory bodies’ workers who are still receiving their salaries and persons already receiving welfare payment are not eligible.
The monthly Social Income Support or Unemployment benefit package, which provides financial assistance for single household of $900.00 and a ceiling of $1800 for any other household, is designed for the following persons:
- Persons who lost their job/income after the March 27 lock down, and
- Persons who were unemployed before the March 27 lock down (over 18 years).
These persons may include self -employed, cleaners and construction workers, among others.
Once a person receives their payment under the Social Income Support /Monthly Unemployment Benefit package, that individual will not be entitled to the food package. Individuals applying under the monthly food package and monthly Social Income Support/unemployment benefit package will complete a short registration form.
To apply for any of the assistance outlined above, individuals can call 491-3895 or 491-5307 or 495-3895 or 495-7471 between 8:00a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Calls can also be made to the following numbers in the evening and on the weekends: 495-5307 or 495-5308 (free phone number).
An online application form for income support is available on the government of Montserrat website, (click on publications, select ‘Ministry of Health and Social Services and download the ‘Social Benefit Support Registration Form’). The direct link is http://www.gov.ms/pubs/ministry-of-health/ . Once completed, email the form to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have already called the Social Services Department, you have been registered and therefore do not need to fill out the registration form online. A representative from the Department will contact you.