Crown must put lien on homes
law that requires government to put a lien on the properties of individuals who
receive poor relief payments was apparently ignored for years because of a
“cultural aversion” to the legislation.
the finding of a recent Internal Audit Unit report on Cayman’s Department of
Children and Family Services. The report noted that a number of people on the
poor assistance dole actually owned property that had not been vested in the
bluntly noted: “The department was not in compliance with the law”.
our review of individuals receiving permanent poor relief assistance, we did
not see any documentation that a lien has been placed on any property,” the
4 of the Poor Persons (Relief) Law (1997 Revision) reads: “in the event of any
poor person in, or coming into possession of any real of personal property,
such property shall vest in the Crown and it shall not be lawful for the poor
person, so long as he continues to be a poor person, to dispose of or otherwise
deal with the same without the permission of the governor.
were advised that this provision of the (Poor Persons Relief) Law has never
been implemented by the department,” the audit report continued. “Discussions
with Department of Children and Family Services officers also indicate that
there is a deeply rooted cultural aversion to property liens in order to
preserve the family land for future inheritance.”
concluded that applicant protests, sometimes supported by “constituent heads”;
was hindering enforcement of the law.
government budgeted nearly $7,000,000 for permanent and temporary poor relief
payments in the 2008/09 fiscal year, the budget year covered in the audit
report. In its response to the audit, the Department of Children and Family
Services noted that since 2006, “several persons” declined pursuing poor relief
payments precisely because they did not want to have government liens placed on
such highly publicised situation occurred within the past year when an elderly
George Town resident, Evalee Pars, got upset when government asked to put a
lien on her house in exchange for the standard $550 a month poor relief
department also noted that other poor relief clients had been removed from the
dole once it was determined they had received cash from the sale of their
the past years, we have terminated several persons whom we knew came into money
as a result of family property sales,” the family services department stated.
“These recipients had been approved prior to the requirement for liens, which
was put into force by Cabinet in 2006.
due to apparent poor management of those funds by the individuals, several of
them are once more dependent on the government.”
also found that the Children and Family Services Department was unable to follow
its own guidelines, which set limits on the amount of time poor individuals can
receive temporary relief payments.
to the department, temporary relief payments cannot be made for more than six
months a year, and cannot total more than $10,000 in any 12-month period.
since updated regulations to the Poor Persons (Relief) Law had not been
approved by Cabinet at the time of the audit, department time limits on the
temporary poor relief were squelched.
fact that we had existing policies, which laid out certain conditions was
deemed improper,” the department noted.
the 2008/09 budget year, auditors found that about one-third of poor relief
recipients it reviewed had received rent payments for more than six months. In
88 per cent of cases where auditors reviewed the issuance of food vouchers,
that assistance had continued for the entire year.