Premier Joseph Farrell on Tuesday afternoon announced an EC$2.1 million package of support for the community.
Speaking to members of the media and the public via live stream, the premier outlined the package which was gleaned from making cuts across internal government budget lines.
Unemployed individuals will receive a one-off payment of $900. Priority will be given to those who are already on the Social Services Register and previously received assistance during the 2020 lockdown.
Every child on island, under the age of 18, will be given EC$150. National health and education records will be used to validate the numbers and addresses of each child and the household in which they reside.
Farrell, who also has responsibility for finance, said the government will subsidise electricity bills by paying the fuel surcharge on all domestic residents for one month and the water consumption bill for one month.
Small businesses which in 2020 received a support grant will be eligible to receive a similar payment for the total of one month of bills up to the same amount received last year. New applicants can apply for this small business support but will need to bring verifiable receipts for rent, utilities and other basic services to be eligible. The businesses must also be legally registered on island.
Included in the $2.1 million package will be remedial repairs to the Golden Years Home, which is to house residents of the Margetson Memorial Home in the event that it must serve as a quarantine facility. Margetson Memorial Home was retrofitted in 2020 to serve as the national quarantine facility if the need arises.
Health and Social Service officials said they aim to begin distribution of the payments in the first week of March.
Where the Funds Came From
Acting Financial Secretary Philip Chambers said the funds were accrued from making cuts to the supplies votes to every ministry, except health and education. The maintenance lines and Small Capital Asset Replacement Funds were also reduced to source the assistance. Government’s contributions to regional organisations were reduced and additional funds were found by zeroing out allocated salaries from vacant public posts.
How to Apply
Government is to provide links to the forms which new applicants must submit to benefit from the small business support grant. Anyone who received this grant last year is not required to resubmit as their information is already in the system. Households wishing to be considered for the unemployment benefit must call the Social Services Department to register. No means tests will be conducted.