$3m set aside for COVID-19 response

NAU gearing up for application influx

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Government has tapped into the National Disaster Fund to the tune of $3 million as it readies to provide support for Caymanian workers facing the breadline due to the collapse of the tourism industry.

Premier Alden McLaughlin, speaking at Tuesday’s COVID-19 press briefing, said Cabinet allocated the $3 million from the fund “to be able to deal with contingencies arising out of the crisis”.

He also announced that a one-off stipend of $425 will be paid to all seamen and veterans in addition to their normal $850 ex-gratia payment. Recipients of permanent financial assistance will also receive additional support.

“Government will also make a one-time stipend payment on 30th March to families who are currently in receipt of food vouchers to accommodate additional supplies. Currently, government supports 311 families with food vouchers. Government is expecting a doubling in the number of families currently supported and are budgeting to cover a three-month period,” he said.

There are currently 1,026 recipients of permanent financial assistance, and 841 seaman and 81 veterans receiving ex-gratia payments.

As thousands of workers face the reality of unemployment, largely due to the coronavirus restrictions on cruises and flights, the premier said government will be ramping up the Needs Assessment Unit to expedite applications.

He said the applications will be processed using a means test.

“We are gearing up so they can handle those applications by phone or by email rather than having to have the face-to-face assessments that go on. So, persons who are struggling will go through the same sort of means testing to determine whether or not they qualify for the assistance,” the premier said.

McLaughlin, who is also community affairs minister, said the NAU is not just preparing in terms of budget, but also human resources so it can manage the expected influx.

He added that, while it was “anybody’s guess” how many Caymanians will seek support, government is prepared to redeploy staff to make ensure the system can handle the “unprecedented” situation Cayman is facing.

NAU statistics

• 1,026 on permanent financial assistance

• 311 families on financial support

Full coverage: Coronavirus

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