Community Affairs Minister Mike Adam told legislators this week that investigations were under way into a handful of cases where family members were cashing relief cheques for elderly parents and failing to spend the money on them.
Mr. Adam was responding to a question by North Side Member of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller during a Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday, 13 March.
Mr. Miller said he had been informed of cases in which children of elderly people were cashing cheques that were meant to be used for the care of their parents.
The North Side MLA called for better monitoring to be put in place to ensure elderly parents were getting the benefits of those payments.
“It is very difficult to get family members to take any kind of proceeding against or even report [these cases],” said Mr. Miller, adding in some instances, one would find upon visiting the elderly people, “the cupboards are absolutely bare” and their homes are not clean.
Mr. Adam said the matter had come to the attention of his ministry, which had sought legal opinion on how to deal with the situation.
He said social workers were monitoring the elderly people receiving the funds, known as Poor Relief Payments.
“We are working on developing closer monitoring of these particular elderly recipients,” Mr. Adam said.
George Town MLA Ellio Solomon asked if a large number of elderly people were affected by misappropriation of the funds by their relatives and if these cases had been going on for a long time.
“I suspect a similar issue has been going on for many years, through the last administration as well,” Mr. Adam responded. “However, I believe the cases are isolated and very few and those that do come to our attention, we do address.”
During Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting, chaired by Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush, during which supplementary budgeting was discussed, an additional $260,000 was approved for the Poor Relief Payments programme, bringing the total amount of those payments during the 2011-2012 financial year to almost $6.2 million.
An additional $1.8 million was approved for Poor Relief Vouchers to be spent in local stores, doubling the amount originally budgeted for the vouchers.
The Finance Committee also approved an additional $1.2 million for rental accommodations for people in need, bringing the total to $2.4 million.