Minister for the Economy and Labour, Jason Hayward, introduced Amendments to the Schedule of the Financial Assistance Regulations 2004 on Friday, entitled the Table of Allowable Expenses.
The new legislation facilitates an increase in the benefits for Financial Assistance recipients, “to ensure that the rates better reflect the cost of living in Bermuda”.
“These changes will increase benefits received by over 2,000 seniors, disabled, low-earner and abled-bodied recipients of Financial Assistance,” said Mr Hayward.
“The Table of Allowable Expenses was last amended in April 2014 and no longer provides adequate support to those who are most vulnerable in our community.
“Cost of living expenses have increased tremendously since the last amendment and as a result an extensive review was carried out to determine the level of assistance required to lessen the burden for recipients on the financial assistance programme.
“Government will continue to be dutiful and deliberate when providing support intended to ensure that members of our community can meet their basic needs,” he added.
Highlighting examples “where increases have occurred in the hope that a significant positive impact will be experienced by families that are current recipients of financial assistance”, he said:
- the rent allowance for a 1-bedroom accommodation will increase by 24% from $1,450 to $1,800;
- the disability allowance will increase by 15% from $650 to $750 per month;
- funeral expenses will increase by 33% from $3,000 to $4,000;
- nursing home rates will increase by 20% from $5,000 to $6,000 per month;
- rest home allowance will increase by 25% from $4,000 to $5,000 per month; and
- other notable changes were made to benefits for electricity, food allowances, eye care exams, podiatry fees, telephone fees and water fees.
“Further, some new items were added to include support to address mental health issues and transitional housing for the homeless,” said the Minister.
The increases go into effect on October 1, 2023.
“The commencement date for these amendments is October 1, 2023.
“This enables internal processes to be completed to ensure effective implementation, such as updating the new rates on our computer system.”
In closing, he said the Government was “very pleased to provide these increased benefits for Bermudians who are among the most vulnerable in our society”.
“These increases are long overdue, but this Government is committed to continuing to work for the people of Bermuda to improve their quality of life and support them in time of need.”