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Laid off workers seeking welfare

More people are coming forward to the Welfare Department for assistance in light of recent Government retrenchments and the minister of Government under whose ambit the department falls has revealed that steps are being taken to ensure the department itself can cope.

Minster of Social Care Steve Blackett told the media this morning, on the sidelines of a groundbreaking ceremony for a new community centre at St Mark’s in St Philip, that many of the same workers who were sent home at the end of last year from the now disbanded Government National Environmental Enhancement Programme (NEEP), had been the ones coming forward for help.

“Some of [the] workers, when we created that programme, were originally some of our welfare clients. When we created the NEEP programme, principally off of the welfare assistance, some of them have unfortunately returned and for that same assistance,” he revealed.

He said he would be going to the House of Assembly next week Tuesday to get $4 million for the Welfare Department to take it to the end of this financial year –– March 31.

“Included in that supplementary [for over $4.8 million] is a sum of $500,000 that will be placed at the Welfare Department for assistance of those NEEP workers and other workers who were retrenched.

“So we are making provisions through the Welfare Department [for those] that were laid off through this addition supplement, in addition to the $4 million in monetary grants to take them to the end of the financial year,” Blackett said, as he revealed his own ministry had not been adversely affected by recent job cuts.

“Across the central ministry [of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development] we have lost so far about ten officers and that has been restricted to the main ministry.  In the two other agencies that fall under our purview, that is the Child Care Board and the National Assistance Board, those are the two areas that have been ‘ring-fenced’ for protection from the layoffs.

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