Eligible low-income Caribbean Utilities Company customers who are struggling to pay their electricity bill can now apply for a grant under an initiative launched by Resilience Cayman.

The utility relief programme provides a one-time grant of up to $250 to help families and individuals who have lost their primary source of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative is being run in partnership with CUC and supported by a $50,000 grant from R3 Cayman Foundation, according to a press release from Resilience Cayman said.

Individuals must complete an online application form for the grant. The programme runs until 30 Nov.

Resilience spokesperson Biserka Pena said in the release that the programme is responding to a growing need in the community.

“We have been supporting residents and families since the start of COVID-19 with food assistance. Now, eight months into the crisis, we are seeing a shift in the nature of the financial hardship many are facing. We are introducing this relief program to address the challenges that families are having in paying their CUC bills even as many are facing the prospect of service disconnection,” Pena said.

People who can apply are:

• Residents in the Cayman Islands (Caymanians, permanent residents and work-permit holders) who are at least 18 years old.
• Those whose CUC account has a balance owing of at least one month.
• Those who have stopped working or have significantly reduced hours because of reasons related to COVID-19.
• Those who expect to have less than $1,000 monthly employment/self-employment income in November 2020.

She noted that some families are months in arrears due to unemployment.

“Thanks to R3’s donation, we will be able to provide assistance to hundreds of families.  In addition to financial relief, we will also provide recipient families with budgeting skills to stretch limited funds and help them to find ways that they can manage their energy consumption going forward,” she added.

Nichelle Scott, CUC customer services manager, said the electricity provider was pleased to support the initiative to ensure people affected by the pandemic can keep their power on.

“Our Company has, from the outset, put plans in place to lessen the economic fallout from this pandemic to our customers. This partnership will ensure that these efforts continue,” she said in the release.

R3 chairman Bryan Hunter said the foundation has seen an increase in charities seeking its assistance to provide utility relief to families and individuals who are unable to keep up with regular payments due to job loss resulting from the pandemic.

“From a Relief standpoint, we are working with those organisations to address this urgent need. From a Recovery perspective, we are also working with organisations, such as the University College of the Cayman Islands and Build Your Future Cayman, to help Caymanians who lost their jobs reskill or upskill so they can find employment,” Hunter added in the release.

He said local non-profit organisations, or organisations exempted from non-profit status under current legislation, can apply online for funding using a short application available on the R3 website.

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