Monday 22 January 2018
The Committee for Employment and Social Security has today submitted its final policy letter in preparation for the introduction of Income Support, which is expected to go live from 6 July 2018.
"The implementation of the 2016 SWBIC proposals has been one of the Committee's top priorities since the start of this term," said Deputy Michelle Le Clerc, President of the Committee. "This policy letter seeks States' endorsement for the new benefit rates and transitional arrangements which will apply from 6 July, 2018."
The existing Rent Rebate scheme, which is available exclusively to social housing tenants, will end. Instead, housing support and Supplementary Benefit will merge into the Income Support scheme. Income Support will operate according to a single set of rules enabling all households in Guernsey and Alderney to access financial support sufficient to ensure an acceptable standard of living.
Currently, social housing tenants can receive more financial help through the Rent Rebate scheme than tenants in the private sector. Also, there is no work requirement at present for non-working people under 65 living in social housing, unless they claim Supplementary Benefit. The new scheme will equalise support as well as the work requirement.
The majority of low income households will be better off under Income Support. While some households will receive less cash benefit, they will qualify for other benefits including medical cover and the winter fuel allowance. And some may qualify for the new Extra Needs Allowance, which provides help with expenses related to health issues or disability, such as energy, clothing or laundry, and dietary needs.
"It is essential that social welfare schemes are implemented fairly and consistently," said Deputy Le Clerc. "We need to be mindful that change isn't easy, however, so any decreases in cash benefits will be phased in gradually, to allow people time to make adjustments to their income or circumstances. And we are committed to providing a range of extra support services to help islanders navigate the changes. This includes focus groups with tenants in the weeks to come, plus drop-in clinics and one-to-one Job Centre help sessions in the coming months."
The Income Support policy letter outlines transitional arrangements in cases of decreased cash benefits of up to three years.
Housing and Social Security wrote to tenants and people who claim supplementary benefit last December to let them know about the proposed changes. They will contact people again in the coming months to let them know their specific entitlements under the new scheme, and outline the extra support services.
Social welfare is among the 23 policy priorities in the current Policy & Resource Plan.