Social Development Minister Marlon Penn has welcomed the commencement of a review of social assistance benefits and grants administration systems in the Virgin Islands.
The main purpose of the review is to support a shift in the design and administration of social assistance benefits, as well as the issuance of grants from the government.
Penn noted that the revised policy frameworks will be used to create new legislation that would aid in streamlining those processes in line with international standards.
“It is our hope that at the end of this process, accessing public assistance will be easier and more transparent. This process will also create an avenue where people will be more comfortable seeking the help they need,” he stated.
The Minister for Health said the four-month project being funded by UNICEF is expected to deliver a Reform Plan for strengthening the design and administration of social assistance benefits and services to persons in need. This includes ensuring shock-responsiveness to reduce the impact of disasters and crises on vulnerable households and communities.
The consultants will also prepare a guidance document to govern the issuance of government-funded grants in other areas of activity across government ministries, departments, and agencies according to the Social Development Minister.
“This further demonstrates our commitment to advancing the good governance agenda that was set out by the Government of National Unity in its Framework for Implementing the Commission of Inquiry
Recommendations and Other Reforms,” the minister added.
The review is being conducted by the Social Policy Research Institute (SPRI Global), through a contract issued by UNICEF. SPRI Global is a not-for-profit institute based in Belgium, which engages in research and research-based consultancy services in the field of social protection, with a concentration in poverty and inequality research and capacity-building activities.
Two members of the SPRI (Global) team, Professor Dr Chris de Neubourg, Director, and Julia Karpati, Senior Researcher, arrived in the territory on September 5 for initial meetings with key government officials. They were joined by UNICEF Social Policy Specialist Ms. Diana Rose King.
“This work is made possible with the support of the SDG Joint Programme which focuses on engaging and training the youth and strengthening integrated social protection sector delivery in Anguilla, BVI, Grenada, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, together with additional technical and financial assistance from UNICEF,” King said.