It has been outlined the amidst all of this economic turbulence, the Government remains deeply committed to ensuring that the most vulnerable people can access social services which can help them to meet their basic needs and access education and health services.
In the Budget Address of 2010, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas had highlighted the completion of work on the assessment of our social protection systems. Technical support for this work was provided by UNICEF and the World Bank.
He also indicated that, over the last year, on the basis of this work and the findings of other technical studies, the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs continued its preparatory work on the development of a new national Social Safety Net Strategy. The central feature of this strategy is the consolidation of three existing cash assistance programmes into a single benefit with clear responsibilities and internal management systems that are designed to monitor and evaluate social and economic impacts both for the clients and the nation as a whole. The restructured social protection will be supported by clear eligibility criteria and an information system that allows continuous monitoring of the circumstances of enrolled beneficiaries.
As a result, the preparatory work has involved a focused effort on collecting, collating and analyzing data from the many social assistance programs that are offered to citizens. This crucial exercise has provided a clear picture of who are vulnerable groups, how they are distributed across St. Kitts and Nevis, what are the characteristics of these groups – their ages, gender and the kinds of services required. This investment is a critical one which the Government takes seriously as it is designed to ensure that the financial crisis in no way heightens the risk of the vulnerable.
Another important feature of the new model is the introduction of Co-Responsibility Mandates – a system in which beneficiaries of state funded assistance program are informed of and held responsible for specific actions and practices that are designed to support their individual development