British Virgin Islands

Monday, Aug 02, 2021

Gov’t contemplating whether to pay unemployment benefits beyond three months

Gov’t contemplating whether to pay unemployment benefits beyond three months

Hundreds of unassigned cheques are being held at the Social Security Board for persons approved for unemployment benefits and are one of the factors that have prompted the government to consider extending the maximum three-month benefit period.

During the launch of the government’s $62.9 million COVID-19 Economic Stimulus-Response Plan back in May, Premier Andrew Fahie announced that $10 million was allocated for unemployment relief.

He said eligible persons were to receive income support for a period not exceeding three months.

But during a recent live social media forum, Minister responsible for Social Security, Vincent Wheatley said this originally-agreed period was under review for a possible extension.

He said: “The Social Security was for three months – March, April and May. We are considering now - I’m still playing with it - extending the period because some persons didn’t get any money for various reasons.”

“One: wrong account numbers. We have hundreds of cheques in there and we cannot find the persons for these cheques. Two: persons who did not send in all the required information. And three: persons who received other benefits from other agencies, they were disqualified … Also, there were persons who got, in some cases, $45, $25 and stuff like that,” the minister explained.

COVID-19 a fluid situation

Minister Wheatley also said a decision on the extension was further prompted due to the fluid nature of COVID-19 which continues to impact a number of families across the territory.

“I like the idea of extending the period down further because we can’t put a deadline on COVID, it can end next month or it can be here for the next two years. So we have to do our very best to help persons through this COVID period,” he said.

Wheatley said a decision will be made within the next two weeks and the public will be informed thereafter.


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