The Ministry for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation sways that as of January 2015, there will be changes in the payment of different social welfare allowances.
These changes have been factored based on the 2015 Budget allocation: With Government’s increased allocation for Food Voucher Programme (FVP), the monthly Food Voucher Payment will increase from $30 to $50 as of January, 2015. The next collection of Food Vouchers will be available at all the social welfare offices starting from Tuesday 6thJanuary 2015.
Clients are reminded to bring in their identification cards for the collection of the food vouchers. The recipients for Poverty Benefit Scheme (PBS) allowances particularly those receiving $60 and more, are advised that their monthly allowances would reduce by $10. Currently the Ministry is assisting more than 18,000 people through this Scheme.
The monthly payment under the Social Pension Scheme (SPS) will also increase from $30 to $50 from January 2015. Through Government’s reform, the age eligibility for Social Pension Scheme has been reduced from 70 to 68 from July 2015. The Social Pension Scheme provides pensions for persons aged 68 years and over who do not have any form of income or pension,or who have never been beneficiaries of any superannuation schemeslike FNPF, After Care Fund, Ex-Servicemen. Currently the Ministry is assisting 11,615 senior citizens through its Social Pension Scheme.
The three other major social welfare programs namely, the Care and Protection, Bus Fare Subsidy and the Welfare Graduation Programme will also continue in 2015.
The disabled and elderly aged 60years and above will also continue to be assisted with an allocation of $150,000 for the Bus Fare Subsidies to ease the costs of travel. Currently 42,475 individuals continue to be assisted by this initiative, with more to be covered next year.
The Care and Protection Program has budgetary allocation of $2 million. This allowance provides for the care and support of children of single mothers, prisoners, those cared for by family members or guardians and children in Residential Homes such as Dilkusha Girls Home, Homes of Hope, Lomani Au Children’s Home and St. Meena’s Home – to name a few. It also caters for children living with Disabilities. Currently, there are more than 5000 children benefiting from this program and the Ministry expects the number to increase as awareness spreads about the assistance that is available. The Fijian Government has allocated $500,000 for the “Welfare to Workfare Program” in the national 2015 Budget.
The programme provides skills training opportunities and start-up capital to able-bodied social welfare recipients to venture into income generating projects and small businesses. In 2014 alone, the lives of 200 families have been transformed, by putting them on a path towards self-sufficiency.
The 2015 budget aims to expand those opportunities to many more families. For any further information on the social welfare programs, public is advised to contact the Ministry’s Headquarters on 3315585 or 3315754.
The Honorable Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Rosy Sofia Akbar.