Antigua opposition wants U-turn on slashed benefits

©Janice Levy

The opposition United Progressive Party has called on the government of Antigua and Barbuda to reverse the decision to strip people of benefits.

The party claims in a press release to have had a number of calls from people who have found themselves in the frightening situation of no longer being able to put food on the table due to the unexpected decision to terminate their benefits under the People’s Benefit Programme.”

There has been no comment on the matter from Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s administration yet.

The scheme, which was introduced when the UPP was in power, is open to those suffering from economic hardship as well as people with disabilities.

WIC News understands that those receiving money from the programme were asked to reapply by the end of 2017 – but that a number of applicants were rejected.

The opposition, who were in power from 2004 until 2014, believe that 400 people will no longer get help from the People’s Benefit Programme.

And according to the UPP, reasons for rejection are households earning too much, or more than one beneficiary being in a household.

But the opposition feel this isn’t good enough.

“The cost of living in Antigua and Barbuda has increased significantly since the $800 threshold was established at the programme’s inception,” the party said.

“The UPP, therefore, calls on the government to reassess the situation with a view towards increasing the threshold to be more in keeping with the present-day cost of living.”

The party has even stronger words for Browne’s government over the reject of disabled applicants.

“The current administration has either inadvertently or deliberately misinterpreted the provisions related to persons with disabilities. As a result of this misinterpretation, they have decreed that two disabled persons who live in the same household cannot both participate in the programme.

“The UPP categorically rejects this interpretation which we hold to be discriminatory against the disabled community.

“We call on the Government to immediately and unconditionally rescind all such decisions and to reinstate all the affected beneficiaries.”


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