Thursday, October 29, 2020

Unemployment Benefits Decrease to $100. Is It Sufficient?

The unemployment benefit will decrease from $150 to $100, as announced by Minister of Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle.

This is not the first time reduction has occurred. The benefits have undergone reductions prior. When the program was launched in March to assist people left unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic, the weekly payment was $200 but decreased to $150 on July 1st.

Is it enough?

While the $100 may be meager, Brensil Rolle believes it still provides a level of income for people who are without as the country grapples with a depressing economy for the last six months.

It is certainly not what people are accustomed to making.

“We want to make sure that individuals have the ability to make assistance. We don’t see ourselves as the instrument that provides the Rolls Royce. We are down to a Toyota.  When it reaches December, it will be nine months of continuous assistance to individuals,” Rolle said.

Why was it extended?

The program was intended for people left unemployed by the COVID-19 pandemic and was scheduled to run for 13 weeks. However, as the lockdowns persist, the need for continuous financial assistance remains great.

The assistance is also extended to people who would not normally qualify for the benefit.

“The government continues to provide assistance to individuals who we know are, maybe, desperate… We are doing our best to provide assistance and some income support to those individuals at this time,” Rolle said earlier this week.

“The first extension, as you may recall, was in July when we thought that we were going to reopen.

“We took individuals up to July and then we didn’t open, we added this program was to be 13 weeks. Now that we have the lockdowns, we extended the assistance through December.”

The big picture

  • During the COVID-19 crisis, the government-funded unemployment assistance Programme for Self Employed persons – $15.61 Million to just over 7,000 recipients. Recipients were paid $200 per week for up to 12 weeks.
  • $56.1 million have been paid to 30,788 persons as of October 11, under the  Unemployment Extension Programme. This programme is still on-going for persons still unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Persons were paid up to $150 per week for an additional 13 weeks.
  • The ordinary NIB unemployment benefit for contributors to the NI Fund – $91.6 million for just under 37,061 claimants. This program is on-going for eligible beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are paid at the rate of 50% of the insurable wage for up to 13 weeks.
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