Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox says easing the reliance of people on lower income brackets was needed to effectively eradicate poverty.
During her contribution to the 2022 budget debate in Parliament on Saturday, Cox said while her ministry was committed to protecting the most vulnerable in society, she noticed a trend where several members of the same family were receiving social relief grants.
She said promoting self-sufficiency and economic stability were among her ministry’s top priorities and noted that programmes like Sowing Empowerment through Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) would continue to provide skills training and small business development in communities.
“The ultimate effect of these measures outlined in the 2021 fiscal package is to alleviate the hardship experienced by our citizens and the laying of the groundwork to eventually wean them off government assistance, because Madame speaker we on this side do not believe the poor should always be with us.
“It is important that we break the cycle of dependence on grants and our aim is to empower them.
“What we have found at the Ministry of Social Development is there is a cycle of families on grants, the grandmother is on grant, the mother is on a grant and so are the children.
“This is something we are addressing because once we empower them, we are able to wean them off grants.”
Cox said, last year, the government, through her ministry, spent $347 million for families in need of food, rental and income support while 178,000 people received covid19 relief grants.
She said up to September 30, 2021, 1,158 applicants were processed for a cost of over $3 million.