Re-Branding and Refined Targeting Among Key Reforms to Enhance the Effectiveness of the Poverty Alleviation Programme

Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 6, 2023 (SKNIS): The Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) is undergoing key reforms that will strengthen the effectiveness of the social assistance programme as part of the government’s strategy to build a robust social protection system.

In a national address on Sunday (February 05, 2023), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Development, the Honourable Dr. Geoffrey Hanley, said that the programme will be re-branded in the coming months as a temporary cash-transfer income supplement programme. It will have a new name and clearly defined objectives, conditions, and operational plans.

Case management will be introduced to the PAP whereby officials from the Department of Social Services will assist beneficiaries to resolve challenges to meet their needs by identifying opportunities and available services to improve their situation and reduce reliance on state welfare.

“To ensure that the resources allocated for PAP are distributed across a wide spread of society, each successful applicant will be allowed to spend six months or a maximum of one year on the programme, based on needs,” Dr. Hanley stated, noting that the government recognizes the need to maintain assistance to seniors and persons with disabilities.

Additionally, the eligibility criteria have been refined to ensure that the most vulnerable in society can benefit. As such, PAP is now targeted to support “households earning less than $3,000 and unable to meet their basic needs. An evaluation of poverty rates and standard of living in St. Kitts and Nevis indicates that an individual who simply earns less than $3,000 does not equate to vulnerability or an inability to live comfortably. Vulnerability exists when a household is earning less than $3000 and is still not able to meet the basic needs for survival for every person in that household,” the Deputy Prime Minister expressed.

He said that the government also recognizes the need to “innovate and create initiatives that help to reduce poverty in more sustainable ways with considerations to increase minimum wage, review and increase social security benefits to pensioners and the disabled, create more jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurship, and diversify the economy to increase employment, productivity and financial independence.”

Honourable Hanley reaffirmed the commitment of the administration “to upkeep our responsibility to provide social protection to the most vulnerable in our population while being fiscally prudent and responsible. We seek the public’s understanding, patience and cooperation as we streamline and re-vamp this social assistance programme to cater to those who need it most,” he added.

Eleven thousand applications for PAP were submitted through the online portal. Of the total applications received from across St. Kitts and Nevis, 9,094 applications were fully completed and accepted for further review, verification, and processing. A further review of the completed applications revealed that 8,985 applicants were eligible based on self-reported earnings.

Cash transfers under the Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) resumed on Friday, February 03, 2023. The payments to some 2,300 households are being made in two categories in the first instance. Recipients of the first payment are households headed by seniors, that is, persons 60 years and older, who identified as the main applicants during the registration period. The second is households headed by persons with disabilities.

Future payments to additional categories of beneficiaries will be made later this month. Priority will be given to households with minor children.

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