Minister Phillip says L.I.F.T. will continue to provide cash transfers to the less fortunate

By Devonne Cornelius

Basseterre, St. Kitts, Feb 20, 2024 (ZIZ Newsroom): The Hon. Isalean Phillip, Minister of Social Development, has stated that the government of St. Kitts and Nevis will continue making cash transfers to the most less fortunate under the Livelihood Improvement for Family Transformation (L.I.F.T) initiative.

During ZIZ’s ‘The Edge’ talk show on Monday (Feb. 19), Minister Phillip said that the L.I.F.T program will be an evolution of the Poverty Alleviation Program (P.A.P).

“The L.I.F.T. program is intended to be an evolution of what the Poverty Alleviation Program was intended to do. It is a cash transfer assistance program where it will be a social assistance cash benefit to the people who are successful in terms of applying…so that will continue,” Minister Phillip said.

She added: “The nature of the assistance will continue; people will still be able to receive some cash transfer assistance but the parameters around that will just look a little different especially since we are really seeking to actually achieve some level of poverty reduction and empowerment of people through the program which is something that the PAP actually lacked.”

Minister Phillip took the opportunity to clarify why the Ministry of Social Development is reforming the P.A.P.

“Initially, the PAP wasn’t implemented in any real systematic way. It was a bit unfair in terms of the process. You never really knew who was on it…and what we found was that there were some people who were really in need of the assistance who weren’t getting it and that there were people who were receiving the assistance who really didn’t have a significant vulnerability so it was really unfair in that way and there was no transparency.

We also found that across the Federation, we have multiple family units living within one household so that became a challenge where we would find people would apply and be eligible because they are earning less than the original stated amount ($3000) but they share a same address or living quarters with another family unit,” Minister Phillip said.

She went on to state that the PAP was not assisting the most vulnerable in escaping poverty because there were no opportunities for empowerment, case management, or monitoring and assessment of those on the PAP.

According to Minister Phillip, the Ministry of Social Development plans to target the most vulnerable individuals by lowering the monthly income threshold from $3,000 to $2,500. The goal of this new program is to target unemployed people with children, single-parent households, and people with disabilities.

“The threshold has now moved to $2,500. Also, we piloted it in the last cycle of the PAP approach last where we, as part of the restructuring, identified priorities categories of the most vulnerable,” she said, adding that, “we want the benefit to reach those who could benefit and we really want to make sure those groups are receiving the assistance.”

The St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board and UNICEF are working with the Ministry of Social Development to help in the restructuring process.

“UNICEF was a consultant as part of the restructuring so they were able to help us affirm the trends and trajectory that we identified and to also help us come up with some operating procedures for the transition to L.I.F.T.,” said Minister Phillip.

She noted that the Social Security Board has income and banking information and will assist with the process.

The L.I.F.T. program will accept applications online beginning April 1, 2024.

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