After weeks of protests on call-in programmes and on social media, persons who recently found their invalidity benefits suddenly cut, can breathe a little easier. Government is to revisit the policy which left hundreds with one of their income streams dried up.
Today, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations confirmed that the administration will not jeopardize the condition of Barbadians living on a combined income of invalidity benefits and pension by removing the former from their monthly income, Social Security Minister, Colin Jordan has assured.
He cleared the air on the popular call-in programme Down to Brass Tacks after public outcry which this week included a protest outside Parliament by a woman who said she was forced to live on just under $50 because of the change.
During the discussion, Jordan said the change went against current social security regulations and government’s overall philosophy. He then promised the issue would be reversed in the coming days.
“The invalidity benefit was cut and only a cost of living allowance was paid. That change of approach to how payments are made to people is not one that this Government supports and so we’ve made a decision that what happened before will continue to happen. The cut will be reversed,” he said.
On Tuesday, 55-year-old Janice Harris, a former maid at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) demanded urgent answers from lawmakers after receiving just $47.51 in Government pension for the month of April.
The single mother argued that the previous month she was getting $628 from the Treasury as part of her Government pension and an invalidity benefit of over $800, but was left virtually empty-handed without warning.
“We as a government have to do what is necessary to protect people, because to move a person from in some cases, $1100 down to $600 a month is not tenable for us,” said Jordan.
“As a party in office expected by the people of the country to look out for them, that is something that you cannot just force on people and so we decided to reverse it.
“I am saying in a few days, because I am not entirely versed on all the processes that need to go into making that a reality,” added the Minister, while revealing the NIS had already started reversing the issue in its system.
On Wednesday, Harris reportedly met with Minister of Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey but said she thought Prime Minister needed to address the issue.
“I am going to be real with you, Mia has to touch this. However, it turns out, Mia Mottley has to address it and deal with it. This is month end; all the treasury is telling us is that the National Insurance Scheme cannot change the rule. The only body that could change it in this country for all of the people that are in this position is the Prime Minister Mia Mottley. The Prime Minister needs to take it back to Parliament. What the Prime Minister Mia Mottley needs to do is to address this issue and come and speak to the people of Barbados who are medically unfit, cannot get their bills paid and cannot get food to eat because this is a serious crisis in Barbados,” she said.
Harris complained that if the situation is allowed to persist, she could be forced to live on the street.