A proposal to introduce an interim increase to the rates of benefits has been lodged by the Committee for Employment & Social Security.
It has been triggered by an “exceptional period of high inflation” according to the Committee. It said this has put even more strain on low-income households.
There are proposed increases to multiple benefits, ranging from the States Pension to income support. The Committee has submitted a Policy Letter that should be debated at the next States’ meeting.
“The proposals in this Policy Letter will not have any impact on 2024 benefit rates, which will be the same regardless of whether the States approve proposals for a mid-year increase,” said the President of ESS, Deputy Peter Roffey.
“It does mean some £3.5m of additional expenditure between now and January, and we are extremely conscious of the pressure public finances are under right now.
“We do need a solution to the sustainability of those public finances but in the meantime we must also recognise that this has been an extraordinary period of increased costs for those islanders who were already struggling. This additional support is very badly and urgently needed and we will be making that case to the States.”
Pictured: Proposed interim rates.
The Committee has argued that the current rates do not accurately reflect the increase in cost of living. It is proposing an increase of 2.9% to take effect from the beginning of July.
In the Policy Letter, the Committee said that it is “mindful of the exceptional impact that the prevailing economic circumstances have had, and continue to have, on Islands, especially those who are partially or wholly reliant on benefits”.
ESS sought insight from the Guernsey Welfare Service (GWS) in clarifying exactly how badly people had been affected by rising interest rates and food hikes. The Service said: “We have noticed an increase in the number of people in employment who are coming to us for help.”
Proposals for benefit increases for 2024 will be brought before the States for debate later this year.
“I encourage anyone who is struggling to make ends meet to contact Employment & Social Security,” concluded Deputy Roffey.
You can call ESS on 222500.
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