The Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) is reporting an increase in new members and is optimistic that the lowering of the age to qualify to join the organisation will lead to an even bigger boost in months to come.
According to BARP’s 2022 annual report, there were just over 1 200 new members for the financial year ending March 31, 2022.
“During the year under review, new members reported were 1 208, compared to 1 061 in the previous financial year,” it stated.
Effective April 20 this year, the age of eligibility for BARP membership decreased from 50 to 40 years old.
During a recent media briefing to introduce a health insurance plan in association with Lynch Insurance Brokers Ltd., for members from age 40 to 49, BARP President Marilyn Rice-Bowen told Barbados TODAY that since the change, membership sign-up has been going “fairly well”.
However, she said, “there is a lot of room for improvement”.
“What we can say is that quite a few of the potential BARP members – the 40 to 49s – they wanted to do everything at once. They tell you they would come but they wanted to sign up for membership and the health at the same time. Regrettably, in July we couldn’t extend that offer. So now that we can we are confident that the numbers will grow,” said Rice-Bowen.
It is estimated that more than 40 000 Barbadians fall within the 40 to 49 age group.
The BARP report added that “a series of membership drives for the year 2022-2023 have been planned which will provide members with greater flexibility to access our services”.
While it is estimated that the association has close to 27 000 members, there were 21 837 members in good financial standing for the year under review, a slight increase of 986 over the corresponding period in 2021.
Explaining the decline in financial members, the BARP report said “the COVID-19 pandemic accompanied by the financial challenges some members were experiencing contributed to a decrease in renewals in 2020 and 2021”.
After a high of 26 785 financial members in 2019, that declined to 25 045 in 2020 and further to 20 851 last year, before the increase this year.
A dissection of the BARP membership shows that women still far outnumbered men in the association. There were 13 660 females compared to 8 177 males, with the majority of the members falling in the 60-69 age group (7 724), followed by the 70-79 age group (6 583), the 50-59 category (4 338), the 80-89 group (2 716) and the 90-plus category (476).
The total number of members below the pension age (50-67) during the reporting period was 10 355 while the number of members 68 years and older stood at 11 482.
The association reported net income of $168 274 for the period under review, which was $10 124 less than the previous year.
BARP said it will continue to focus on training members via Zoom during the current financial year as it continues to use that platform to present awareness sessions and cultural activities to members. (MM)