Antigua – Government cuts social benefits
ST JOHN’S – President of the Association of Persons with Disabilities, Bernard Warner is describing government’s treatment of the country’s elderly and disabled as “a disgrace”.
The head of a local organisation alleges that government is now forcing some of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens to choose between the benefits of two social programmes.
The Board of Guardians and PDV Caribe provide assistance to the elderly, mentally challenged, visually impaired, and the economically disadvantaged. But on Thursday morning, Warner told Observer media at least 30 of his members complained they have been told they can no longer benefit from both subsidies.
To make matters worse, Warner said members of his association were only informed of the benefit when they turned up to receive their cheques yesterday.
Warner said there should have been a warning before pulling the plug on the benefits.
“If you’re going to make changes to something that affects my life, shouldn’t you have come out months ahead and let me know that in six months’ time there’s going to be some changes? You don’t just come and drop it on me “bradam” today and tell me I won’t be getting any bread tomorrow, because you’ve stopped providing bread,” an upset Warner said.
“It’s a tragedy. It’s a disgrace and we really need to air the voices of those who will be affected by this, because give us a year and it’s going to be an uproar because these people who justly deserve the benefits are not going to receive them.”
Warner is further calling on the public to stand up for those who would be affected.
“There are a lot of young children with cerebral palsy that I know receive both grants and they will be cut. Parents will have to buy adult pampers, feed them on milk because they can’t eat solid food. Single mothers who are unemployed will be unable now to provide proper sustenance for this child. This is the real face of the crisis we’re facing in Antigua.”
“I’m very disturbed about the news, as the majority of the people I’m representing don’t have any other means of income and that’s their only means of surviving,” he said.
“They’re unsure and they don’t know what is going to become of them if they don’t receive the benefits.”