Persons deserving of public assistance will not be removed from list – Chairman assures

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The new Board of the Poor Law Commission held its first meeting on Tuesday where the issue regarding the review of the list of persons for public assistance was further discussed.

With some 12,000 persons currently on the monthly list of beneficiaries, Chairman of the commission, Amanda Richards has assured that a review of the list will not disenfranchise persons who are deserving of the assistance.

Richards told the News Room via telephone that all persons who are found to be eligible will not be removed.

“We need a review to ensure persons on the list currently are supposed to be there and we will not know until we go through the list. I have no doubt that the majority of persons on the list deserve to be there and will remain on the list,” Richards said.

The list will be reviewed to ensure the process is not exploited and the most vulnerable are given the necessary assistance. Richards explained that there are two lists – a list of permanent beneficiaries and another for temporary beneficiaries.

She said while the permanent list has not been updated for some time, the temporary list is usually updated every six months. During Tuesday’s meeting, the Board met with the Probation and Social Services Officers who helped to review and verify the circumstances of the persons on the list based on the information in their files.

“They will go around and speak with people and families and assess the cases and them they will come back to the Board with the update,” she added.

Persons who are desirous of getting on the list can visit the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security at their Water and Cornhill Streets, Stabroek, Georgetown office or contact them on telephone number 225-4186.

The move to review the list was a directive from the subject minister, Dr Vindyha Persaud.  Asked about increases in the payouts made, Richards said that is a decision to be made at the Parliamentary level.

“We can only go with what is given to us in the budget… if they decide to increase it, then we will all be very happy,” she added.

Richards explained that the commission is also taking steps to improve the living standards and earning ability of persons on the list in a bid to have them earn independently and ultimately removed from the list to make space for other persons in dire situations.

The Board will refer beneficiaries to the ministry’s skills training programmes to help them to become financially independent and benefit from employment opportunities. She said the main aim of the new Board, which is still finalizing its work plan for the next five years, is to make access easy without undue delay.

In a bid to address the backlog and urgent cases, Richards said the Board has taken a decision to meet more frequently than the usual once per month meeting.

The other members of the Board are Deputy Chairman, Keeran Persaud and members Janet Ann Geer, Raymon Cummings, Alison Barkie, Gomatie Narine, Dr Josh Kanhai, Peter Persaud, Diana Kaulessar O’Brien and Beverly Clenkian.

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