The rollout of sweeping changes to the social protection system aimed at improving the lives of thousands of people in Antigua and Barbuda has been making considerable headway.
In August 2021, the Ministry of Social Transformation, Human Resource Development and the Blue Economy, in collaboration with UNICEF, launched an awareness campaign to educate the public on the significant changes to the Government’s Social Protection system and the move from the Poor Relief Act of 1961 to the Social Protection Act of 2020.
The changes represent a transformation in the way social protection is perceived and delivered. Under the Poor Relief Act, there were no clear standardized eligibility criteria to identify poor and vulnerable individuals who needed to be supported, decisions were left to the Board of Guardians on a case-by-case basis.
The new Social Protection Act remedies this and makes other critical modifications. It represents what Social Protection policies and programmes should be: an inclusive approach where the vulnerable are covered and have the ability to thrive.
The new Social Protection Act was enacted with the goal to improve the plight of those in need, especially the poor and vulnerable.
- The process is systemized, with the legislation prescribing the setting of clear eligibility criteria that can be communicated to the population, for a more accountable system (easier to appeal/respond to an appeal);
- Support has moved from the individual to the household level, with focus given to the specific needs of each member;
- The Ministry of Social Transformation, Human Resource Development, and the Blue Economy, within the Department of Social Policy, Research and Planning is in charge of assisting the newly established Social Protection Board. The goal is to develop and apply clear targeting guidance for the programmes managed by the Social Protection Board. The new act also includes eligibility criteria which have simplified clear, targeted guidelines developed to identify eligible individuals and households. For each target group, the household’s income must be less than or equal to $1,500XCD. The target groups are:
- The elderly with low income in a household of two or less, aged 65+
- Single parents/caregivers with low income and two or more dependents, where dependents are elderly, aged 65+, children aged 0-17 and/or persons with severe disabilities.
- Low-income households with a number of dependents. This consists of parents/caregivers with three or more dependents who are elderly, aged 65+, children aged 0-17 and/or persons with severe disabilities.
- Low-income households with individuals living with severe disabilities. This includes respondents who reported “a lot of difficulties” and “cannot do at all”. (i.e. physical impairments, visual impairments etc.).
The Ministry continues to reaffirm the public’s commitment to support individuals and families in need by securing appropriate living standards and offering accessible and affordable life necessities. To date, the Ministry of Social Transformation has completed the first phase of the recertification process, which is the re-registration of the social protection beneficiaries.
For more information on the eligibility criteria, contact the Social Protection Board at 268-562-7515/562-7516 or email: [email protected]. Visit the Social Protection Board headquarters on Cross Street to pick up an application form.
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