Now that assistance grants have shifted from the control of district representatives to the Ministry of Health & Social Development, plans are being implemented to bolster the staff at the Social Development Department.
This is according to Health Minister Marlon Penn who met with members of the department and addressed staffing issues, among other things.
“The burden is now placed on the Social Development Department to process all these levels of assistance without additional staff or resources. So, I understand the struggle that you face when people are frustrated and they sometimes take the frustration out on you. But I just want to let you know that you have my support,” Penn told the members of staff.
Minister Penn advised the department that he has met with Permanent Secretary Petrona Davies and discussed “support for the staff to be better able to offer the increase in service to the public because of the shift.”
“We have just completed the initial report in terms of how we reform the social systems, the social network, and we are also about to take that to Cabinet with those recommendations,” Penn told members of staff. “Those reforms have implications and will impact how you do your work and it is important for you to be a part of this process so there are no surprises and that you are equipped to offer those services to the public when they come calling.”
The minister encouraged the staff to continue providing what he described as ‘excellent service’ and reiterated his commitment to support the team as they continue to execute their duties.
The House of Assembly (HOA) moved assistance grants — previously facilitated through House members and ministries — to the Social Development Department last year after the release of a damning Commission of Inquiry
Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom
concluded that it was highly likely that serious dishonesty may have taken place and said nothing was being done to prevent or discourage such conduct so he proposed that, “House of Assembly Members’ Assistance Grants and the Government Ministries’ Assistance Grants in their current form should cease forthwith.”