As part of efforts to cushion the economic impact on residents, brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent response measures, the Ministry of Health and Social Services, with funding through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MoFEM) will be implementing several packages of assistance.
The packages which will be offered include, ‘unemployment support’, ‘child support programme’, and ‘utility support programme’. The details of each package are as follows:
Unemployment Support Eligibility and Process
Under the unemployment support programme all individuals who are currently unemployed, before or during lockdown, will be eligible for assistance of a maximum of XCD$900.00.
Persons who are employed but whose monthly income is under $900 due to lockdown (February) are also eligible for assistance. If a person is earning under $900, they will be given assistance to bring their monthly income for the month of February to the maximum $900. The maximum amount of assistance any individual will be eligible for is $900 as a one-time payment. Therefore, anyone receiving income via pension, social welfare, social security and other sources over $900 will not be eligible.
To encourage efficiency and swift payments, individuals who benefitted from support during the 2020 lockdowns are not required to re-apply. Instead, the Ministry of Health and Social Services with assistance from the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Labour,
will be utilizing the 2020 lists, which contain the names of individuals that received assistance under the various relief programmes. Individuals will then be contacted directly via telephone to ascertain whether their circumstances have changed since the last lockdown period in 2020 to inform the payment process.
Individuals who did not receive any form of assistance during the 2020 COVID-19 Relief programme, who meet the eligibility criteria outlined above will be notified by ZJB, GIU and other media outlets to contact the Social Services Department to register.
The payment will be made directly into the applicant’s bank account. Persons who are registering must provide accurate banking details, including the correct spelling of names and must ensure that the name on the bank account is identical to the name of the applicant.
Child Support Programme Eligibility and Process
The Government of Montserrat is also providing support to all children. Therefore, each child under the age of 18, who is not currently employed, will receive XCD$150.00.
However, there will only be one award per child and this will be given to the parent with whom the child lives.
The Ministry of Education’s list of school aged children and their guardians will be utilized to identify and contact parents to acquire details to facilitate payments. Parents with children who are not in a formal private or public educational institutions will be notified via GIU, ZJB and other media outlets to contact the Social Services Department to register their children. Parents will be asked to provide proof of the child’s name and relationship.
Utility Support Programme Eligibility and Process
The Government of Montserrat will also cover the consumption portion of water bills and the fuel surcharge on electricity bills for all residential customers on Montserrat for the month of February. This will be actioned by the Ministry of Finance and Montserrat Utilities Limited. Customers will not need to apply. Customers will receive bills with their full charges as usual but will only be expected to pay the amount not covered under this programme. Therefore, the customers will pay the total less (minus) the water consumption and fuel surcharge amounts.
Payment under all programmes will commence during the week starting March 1, 2021.